Eastern Mennonite University professor Carolyn Stauffer has been awarded a JustPax Fund grant to support the development of a new Strategies for Trauma and Resilience (STAR) curriculum focused on sexual harms. (EMU file photos)

JustPax grant will fund the development of STAR curriculum for sexual harms

Eastern Mennonite University professor Carolyn Stauffer has been awarded a JustPax Fund grant to support the development of a new Strategies for Trauma and Resilience (STAR) curriculum focused on sexual harms.

Contributors to the “Changing the Narrative on Sexual Harms” (CTN) project include STAR trainer Katie Mansfield, program director Hannah Kelley and practitioner Joy Kreider. The project will be housed under the STAR program at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

STAR has facilitated trauma and resilience trainings with thousands of participants from more than 60 countries. The CTN project and resulting curriculum will deepen the program’s work addressing sexual trauma specifically and will engage all affected parties – from individuals to institutions – in proactive, preventative and restorative approaches.

Carolyn Stauffer, an Eastern Mennonite University professor who teaches in the applied social sciences and graduate biomedicine program, speaks during a fall 2017 convocation.

“Worldwide there is a growing admission that the topic of sexual harms is quickly moving from invisible peripheries to conspicuous center stage,” Stauffer said. “The CTN project provides a viable way to be visibly present at a critical time in this important conversation. This proactive approach frames the paradigm shift opportunity offered by CTN.”

The grant includes funding for assembling focus groups in local and international settings, interviewing global practice leaders, and accessing expertise at institutions such as Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.

The project will collect input from survivors across diverse communities to ensure the inclusion of voices from marginalized and underrepresented communities. In addition to the harmful impacts of sexual violence on individuals, the curriculum will address how power disequilibriums can foster cultures of violence in communities and organizations.

“Many organizations do not have processes in place to support individuals in a trauma-sensitive manner nor the impetus to push for proactive policies that prevent sexual violence in the first place,” Stauffer wrote. “Daily we hear of ‘sexual misconduct’ that gains notoriety precisely because institutions are non-compliant with current legislation and ignorant of trauma-sensitive intervention protocols. Such gaps not only compound the profound harms already done to victims, but they also put the integrity, legality and legitimacy of organizations at risk.”

The JustPax Fund focuses on individuals and organizations working for effective change through innovative approaches to societal challenges relating to gender, environmental and/or economic justice. It is administered by Everence Charitable Services through the Everence affiliate, Mennonite Foundation.

“This project is the heart of what JustPax is all about,” said Teresa Boshart Yoder, managing director for Everence in Harrisonburg. “We want to reach out to the underserved or vulnerable and begin programs that will bring about effective change.”

This $6,600 grant is the second Stauffer has received from JustPax. A 2016 grant of $10,200 supported a project called “Silent Violence,” which studied strategies of resilience among domestic violence survivors from within communities of homeless women, undocumented Latinas, and Mennonite women from Old Order or conservative church communities.

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