FORT LIBERTY, NC. – At the 7th annual Special Victims Summit, 450 community partners gathered to reflect on their progress and look towards the future, on Dec. 6, at the Iron Mike Conference Center.
Kelly Taylor, registered nurse and forensic healthcare program manager, urged leaders to remember that behind every case or statistic is a person in need of help, compassion, and hope. Whether it's a patient in an emergency department, a survivor at a crisis center, or a legal office, leaders should recognize the humanity and vulnerability before them and respond with empathy and support. Do not take the privilege and the honor given by the brave one sitting before you lightly.
“When they walk out of the room, have you done everything in your power to change their life for the better?” asked Taylor. “Sometimes you only get one chance, can you live with what you did or didn't do in that moment?”
Taylor challenged community partners to not only be trustworthy but to have the confidence to put their trust in others.
“Sexual assault, intimate partner violence and abuse affects us all, we have to work to together to make our community safe," said Taylor. "We do it because we want to make a difference."
Military leaders and speakers at the summit were Womack Army Medical Center Commander Col. David Zinnante, Col. Adam Cobbs, chief of staff XVIII Airborne Corps, Dr. Sharon Cooper, developmental and forensic pediatrician, Dr. Michael Bourke, clinical and forensic psychologist, and Billy West, Cumberland County district attorney.
The summit emphasized the importance of empowering leaders, transforming culture, and building trust to create a safe community. They stressed that everyone has a role to play in making a difference.
“Empowerment, transformation, and building are words of action, and we are a community of action,” said Zinnante.
A community he stated, made up of leaders that people depend on to foster a spirit of growth to create and inspire change in others.
This multi-disparate collaboration is enhancing understanding and education, not only of the army leadership, but our civilian teams, increasing the overall readiness of our force, and the quality of service to the most important people, the victims,” said Cobbs.
Bourke highlighted the importance of a victim-centered approach in cases of child exploitation or sexual assault.
Some difficult topics were discussed during the summit including escalation of violence, psychology of the offender, neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed communications, strangulation, anatomy of a trial and human trafficking in our community, however it brought to light the reality of things that were happening,
West said he hopes leaders will gain awareness of issues seen in special victims' cases, such as strangulation and trauma experienced by victims. Recognize the prevalence of human trafficking in our community and take away practical knowledge to apply in their daily lives and work. By doing so they can make a positive impact and improve their response to these critical issues.
The call to action resonates as a reminder that every moment counts in making a positive difference.