Understanding the Role and Work of the Indiana Disability Justice

Written by Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams, ICADV

April is Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness month and the Indiana Disability Justice (IDJ) is celebrating entering it’s fourth year of collaborating statewide to end sexual violence with people with disabilities, including developmental and cognitive disabilities. The IDJ is a coalition of survivors of violence with disabilities, self-advocates, disability service providers, anti-violence coalitions, and caregivers who have a common goal of increasing holistic wellness of people with disabilities. IDJ strategies include education and advocacy, restorative and transformative accountability, policy change, and research that help to create inclusive and supportive environments to help prevent sexual violence.

The leadership includes Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams (Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence), Skye Ashton Kantola (Consultant, Self-Advocate), Tammy Themel (AccessABILITY), Jody Powers (Consultant, Self-Advocate), Jennifer Milharcic (Consultant, Self-Advocate), and Haleigh Rigger (Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking). Together the leadership team works with the advisory council toward creating protective environments that enable thriving for people who are made vulnerable by systems inequity. IDJ 2021 goals include:

  1. Community Strengths and Needs Assessment (CSNA): reimplementing a survey tool to assess safety, independence, and sexual wellness of people with disabilities in Indiana who have experienced sexual harm;
  2. Organizational Assessment Tool: implementing a tool for use by organizations interested in preventing harm against people with disabilities, and identifying areas of improvement for disability services and opportunities for violence prevention;
  3. Educational resources: continue creating educational resources to empower people with disabilities in their self- and community-advocacy efforts, and educational resources to support service providers, caregivers, and businesses in working more effectively with people with disabilities;
  4. Resource Hub: host a website to house IDJ webinars, assessment tools, and blog sharing the voices of survivors with disabilities;
  5. Webinars: Implementing at least 5 new webinars focused on disability justice and sexual violence prevention;
  6. Evaluation: Developing and implementing creative, community‐building evaluation strategies to assess IDJ effectiveness and areas of improvement.

IDJ invites you to pick a protective environment and create or enhance the possibilities for positive and protective relations, organizations, and communities in service of an equitable society for people with disabilities, their allies, and everyone. Contact IDJ for coaching, training, and technical assistance at indisabilityjustice@gmail.com. Subscribe to the IDJ Hub to receive blog posts by survivors with disabilities, accessible prevention evaluation tools, and webinars that centralize disability in violence prevention.

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