As the federally recognized state sexual assault coalition, The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) represents the state’s 17 rape crisis centers and the voices of many other professionals and service providers working with sexual assault survivors. Our work seeks to alleviate these burdens and many others that survivors of sexual violence face every day. Here are just some examples of how we fight for survivors.
Recovering after any sexual assault is a traumatic experience, but contracting HIV, having to co-parent with your attacker, or living in the dorm room next to your rapist are beyond comprehension for most people.
“The trauma of being raped is difficult enough without the added burden of fearing that you will contract HIV. In the immediate aftermath of my attack, I was still reeling from the effects of being brutally assaulted; trying to focus on the police questions, the forensic exam, and what to say to my family and friends; and wondering if I’d ever be able to go back to my home. And then the nurse told me I’d have to be tested for HIV. I realized that even though he didn’t kill me that night, he still could because I could be HIV+. That terror, that fear, that desperation of not knowing if I was HIV+, or if I could afford to take any medications that might help, soon put all of my other healing on hold. It’s hard to focus on long-term healing if you think your rapist is just going to kill you in the long run.”With the passage in the last few years of both an HIV testing bill for suspects and guaranteed n-PEP treatment for rape survivors, victims no longer have to live with the fears that this survivor did. SALI is here to help survivors ask for their attacker's HIV status and ensure they receive the medication they need. MCASA’s work on these HIV-related bills helps survivors of rape and sexual assault to focus on their healing without the added burden of the fear of contracting HIV.
Prior to the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act becoming law in 2018, survivors who became pregnant as a result of rape faced the prospect of having to co-parent with their attacker. The day after it became law, an attorney for the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI) filed a petition on behalf of a rape survivor requesting that her rapist's parental rights be terminated. After a hearing, the rapist's rights were terminated, and the mother now knows that neither she nor her child will ever have to be in contact with him. Because of this law and SALI's representation of this survivor, she can now focus on her own recovery and raising her child without the fear of having to see her rapist.
On August 14, 2020 amidst the pandemic, the federal Department of Education implemented harmful new Title IX regulations. Under these new regulations, schools have fewer tools to investigate and eradicate campus sexual violence. These changes protect perpetrators of sexual violence at the expense of student survivors, and make it entirely possible a survivor would be forced to attend classes taught by their rapist, or live in a dorm room next to their attacker. MCASA strongly condemns these new regulations, and we will continue to fight for the rights of student survivors.
MCASA works to prevent sexual assault, advocate for accessible and compassionate care for survivors of sexual violence, and hold offenders accountable. MCASA’s Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI) provides direct legal services for victims and survivors of sexual violence. In 2019, SALI served more than 530 survivors of sexual violence in 2019.