Since Last We Spoke, 2-27-17

I was having some trouble with my site yesterday, apologies for the late post. It’s a trial week for me, so we’ll see how consistent I am this week anyway. Although this was a working weekend, it also included some travel; here’s what caught my eye (in planes, airport clubs and long rides to post) since last we spoke:

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Merriam-Webster is the twitter account to follow right now

Related: can you even tell what’s normal?

Also related: the Handmade’s Tale, revisited

What a cool opportunity to broaden your knowledge

This is appalling and all too familiar to us

The rise of these crimes: also appalling

Holding famous men accountable (or not): here, here and here

The casualties of women’s war on body hair


Historical Trauma: The Beginning of a Conversation

I debated the best way to approach this post, as I knew there were several points to include, but no clear path for laying it all out. Perhaps it begins with the occasions in which people have asked me why we should discuss historical trauma as a component of medical-forensic education. Or maybe it goes much farther back, to the early years of my career when one of the big dogs in our professional circles confronted me, without a trace of irony, about why we needed to tailor training to meet the needs of individual communities, since the body parts were all the same, regardless of the community in which we were training. Ultimately it didn’t matter–I just knew this was going to need to be the focus of a post when I clicked on the daily email I receive from TED yesterday, and watched the featured talk.

I’m a fan of Dr. Brittney Cooper‘s; I follow her on Twitter, enjoy her regular column at Salon. In watching her TED talk, The Racial Politics of Time, I was struck by how closely connected her premise was to the concept of historical trauma. Historical trauma is defined as “the cumulative, multigenerational, collective experience of emotional and psychological injury in communities and in descendants.” She wasn’t talking about historical trauma by name–she was calling out one of the clear underpinnings of historical trauma, racism, and how it impacts whole communities. But as I listened to her speak, I was struck [again] by how important it is for us to have these deeper conversations about oppression in all its forms, to visit (and re-visit) the concept of historical trauma as one type of trauma our patients may experience; and to incorporate these concepts into baseline and continuing education in our field. It’s a good idea simply at face value, but when you add to that the reality that a significant percentage of clinicians staffing forensic programs do not reflect the racial or cultural makeup of the patients they serve, well, this becomes an even more important conversation to have. Want to serve your patients more effectively? Take the time to watch talks like this and others (have you seen 13th yet?). Discuss them and dive deeper (here’s Dr. Cooper’s reading list, for instance)–on your own and with your team. Trying to decide what topics you want to cover at your advanced forensic education course this year, or your annual SART retreat? This is a good one to add into the mix. This point she makes early in her talk alone reinforces why we need to have these conversations in our professional circles:

Now, when Barack Obama became President of the US in 2008, many Americans declared that we were post-racial. I’m from the academy where we’re enamored with being post-everything. We’re postmodern, we’re post-structural, we’re post-feminist. “Post” has become a simple academic appendage that we apply to a range of terms to mark the way we were. But prefixes alone don’t have the power to make race and racism a thing of the past. The US was never “pre-race.” So to claim that we’re post-race when we have yet to grapple with the impact of race on black people, Latinos or the indigenous is disingenuous. Just about the moment we were preparing to celebrate our post-racial future, our political conditions became the most racial they’ve been in the last 50 years.

The Racial Politics of Time
is twelve and a half minutes; there’s a lot of learning packed in there. Take the time to hear the lesson:

Sexual Assault

New Research Translation on Sexual Identity and Health-Related Behaviors of High School Students

NSVRC has a new research translation available (PDF) that summarizes a CDC study on sexual identity and health-related behaviors of high school students. The report found that students who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual face significant health disparities. This is a critical issue in our work, as we evaluate the healthcare needs of our patients at the time of the exam and as part of the discharge and referral process. And NSVRC has made it easier to understand and apply the research–here are some other research translations if you’re interested:

Key Findings from Sexual Violence Victimization and Associations with Health in a Community Sample of African American Women

Key Findings on Sexual Violence from the “Global status report on violence prevention 2014”

And while this isn’t a research translation, it is a research brief to which I still refer folks (even though it’s from 2012) since the information is still relevant:

Sexual Violence and Health: Research Brief (PDF)

{Related: new JAMA Pediatrics article, Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts (Full-Text)}


Since Last We Spoke, 2-20-17

I have to tell you, it’s been a glorious weekend here in the 703. We took the pup down to Shenandoah for his 1st big hike and the car read 73 degrees when we were heading home. Unbelievable. Today is a holiday of sorts here in the US, so it’s only a kind-of work day. So I leave you with a kind-of list to peruse–a few things that have caught my eye since last we spoke:

A brilliant editorial in response to the attacks on the press

This is everything we need right now

Love the idea of this

The aftermath of an assault can take so many shapes



Child Abuse

Child Interviewing 2017: Update on Research and Practice

For those of you peds folks with an interest in the state of the science around forensic interviewing, Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center has a webinar coming up, Child Interviewing 2017: Update on Research and Practice. The session will be held 9 March at 1pm CT. The faculty for this session will be Dr. Tom Lyon.

Description of the webinar:

Dr. Lyon will discuss the major research advances in 2016 that help interviewers to do a better job when they question children, and whenever possible, provide videotaped examples of the novel procedures.

Register here.

Sexual Assault

STD Risk and Oral Sex

A reader recently asked about the risk of STDs in cases where the patient reported only oral penetration. She wanted to know what the recommendations were around counseling patients, and which infections, in particular, were concerning. The CDC actually has a fact sheet on this issue (that includes where the research is lacking), and while the information is meant for the lay public, it does a nice job of providing an overview of the issue that would certainly be useful to clinicians, as well. And you know I do love me a good references section, which this one has. So if nothing else, check it out for a deep dive on the STD literature. Recently updated, too.


Since Last We Spoke, 2-13-17

Oh, hey, a last minute resolution to my trial this week means I’m unexpectedly at home. It’s like a snow day, but without the paycheck snow. Since I didn’t have to get on a plane on Saturday, it left me some time to goof off, and plenty of time to surf the interwebs. Here’s what’s caught my eye since last we spoke:

I feel like this should be helpful for Leadership/Lobby Days (in all seriousness, have you registered yet?)

Buzzfeed did a nice job profiling the ED of SurvJustice


More and more, online exploitation

Confronting your rapist

Every time someone recognizes sexual assault as the public health issue it is, I do a little happy dance

I feel so sad for this family–I hope it was cathartic

A terrific mini-interview with Dr. Willie Parker about his particular journey. (Apropos of not much–we listen to the same podcasts.)


Trump’s travel ban and its impact on human trafficking

Speaking of crap things happening with this administration…(also can we spend a second talking about how “women’s” mags like Cosmo and Teen Vogue are killing it in the political realm right now?)

Finally, this is so spectacularly NOT suitable for work (or people who don’t appreciate cussing); I laughed out loud reading it.


National Survey Shines Light on Teen Dating Violence

There’s new research available on the teen dating violence. NIJ has an overview of the study, the National Survey of Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV), on their site. The study is wide-ranging, looking at sexual harassment, physical and sexual violence, and psychological abuse. It also examines perpetration, as well as victimization. Worth checking out.


Articles of Note, February 2017 Edition

Time once again for Articles of Note, my (sort of) monthly walk through the peer reviewed literature. It’s an interesting overview this month, with a lot of domestic violence and mental health research. But it’s one of the first times I have also run across a completely new concept–in this case, body vandalism. Fascinating.

Below are the Word and PDF version. Use as you wish, just remember to give credit if you use any of it.




My Son Was a Columbine Shooter

I listened to this TEDMED talk last week, and I will tell you right now, it’s not an easy or comfortable listen, for so many reasons. But it’s an important one, and the issues she discusses, like trauma, mental illness and the connection between suicide and homicide, touch upon the work that we do on several fronts. So while I’m traveling cross country today, I leave you with this:


Since Last We Spoke, 2-6-17

This week open up my hard core travel season, with travel scheduled 8 out of the next 11 weeks. I’m thoroughly pleased to be heading to Monterey, CA to join my favorite military law nerds for a course we’re teaching there, and then we head into court martial season. So as always, I promise to try and keep posts as regular as possible, but you know this story, so please bear with me.

I had the kiddo with me this weekend, so I spent way more time playing offline than on. But here’s what did catch my eye since last we spoke:

February is Black History month; here’s a lesson for our president

Also, apropos


A long, difficult, but excellent read about the Roof trial

Nice to see us talk about the neurobiology of trauma in broader circles

How the president’s ban may make it harder to find providers

Hey, this is me!

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me: I get the NY Times delivered on Sundays, and the 1st section I read is the Wedding section. I have been reading Sasha the gay and military weddings since we got together, every Sunday, no matter where one of us is in the world. And then we read the main wedding story. I can’t explain it (perhaps it’s just a nice escape from the realities of our world–I’m going to chalk it up to self-care anyway), but this tradition is why we chose to put our own wedding announcement there, too. So I was delighted to read the story of the 1st African-American couple to be featured in the Times Wedding section, back in 1956. They’re actually doing a retrospective of their 165 years of weddings, so it’s been a fun read every weekend (after the gay, military, and main weddings, naturally).

Did you watch the Superbowl? We didn’t, but I did catch the half-time show online, and of course, the many commercials. This was one of my faves:

But, this–oh man (and Sisterhood!)


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and there are plenty of good resources available to make you even better at caring for this patient population:

Love Is Respectsticker-thumbnail-180x180 has both twitter chats (#teendvchat) and webinars, plus Respect Week, February 13-17 (download the guide here). You can check out all of their offerings, and downloadable media on their dedicated page.

VAWnet has a special collection just published on preventing and responding to teen dating violence.

Break the Cycle has a conversation guide for parents on talking to teens about healthy relationships. Don’t let the parent part deter you–there’s plenty in this that will make you better at talking to your adolescent patients.

Check out CDC’s Dating Matters online training; there’s also an interactive guide to informing policy, for those of you who have your hands in that arena.

Interested in some of the research on this topic? You’ll find a solid overview from NIJ here; fact sheet from CDC here (with references).

The National LGBTQ Institute on IPV is hosting a webinar in honor of TDVAM on a topic particularly interesting to me, There’s No One I Can Trust: Rethinking Mandatory Reporting Practices on February 21st at 12pm PST. [I am very conflicted on the issue of mandatory reporting, so I am going to try and attend this one.]

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiatives and Non-investigative Kits

In case you missed the release of this a couple weeks ago, the Office on Violence Against Women published a white paper, Sexual Assault Kit Testing and Non-investigative Kits (PDF). Per their description: “This report presents reasons why the Office on Violence Against Women cautions against submitting sexual assault kits to forensic laboratories if the person from whom the kit was collected has not chosen to report a sexual assault to law enforcement and has not otherwise consented to its submission.” Many communities are debating the issue of how to handle untested kits right now, so it’s worth your time to both read and share with members of your SART for an upcoming meeting. It’s well articulated and well-referenced, and best of all, it’s relatively brief.