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Victim advocates learn how to respond to sex crimes, homicides at EVET Conference 2022

Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 19:15:32-04

BRYAN, Texas — When a person becomes the victim of a crime, it can take a village to get them the care and representation that they deserve. At the ‘Every Victim, Every Time' [EVET] conference, held annually at the Brazos County Expo, people from all different kinds of professions learn the best ways they can assist a person who’s been victimized.

Gwen Leever attended the conference on Tuesday as a volunteer therapy dog handler with the organization HOPE Animal Assistance Crisis Response. The group’s goal in attending was mainly to provide emotional comfort to attendees as they discussed emotional topics such as child sexual abuse, murder-for-hire, and gang exploitation of women.

When sitting through Brazos County district attorney Jarvis Parson’s lecture on implicit bias; however, Leever discovered something that affected her.

“I just learned how you don’t realize that you have an internal bias when it comes to gender and race," she said. "It affects your practice. I’m a nurse, and when you approach a patient you have all kinds of history and biases from the past that you have to let go of.”

People just like Leever, and in completely different positions – cops, lawyers, school teachers, paramedics, therapists – were taught about new approaches to victim advocacy based on ever-evolving research and data. Sessions focused especially in regards to children, racial minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.

“What we try to do with the talk is make them understand that [bias] is not about intention, but many times it’s things that lurk underneath the surface and may impact how we make decisions," Jarvis Parsons told KRHD.

The conference drew in nearly 600 attendees from across the country, sponsored by dozens of local nonprofits, companies, and university programs. Due to the pandemic, EVET had been canceled over the past two years.

“We wanted to be able to provide that training in a safe environment for our attendees, and so we were very pleased with how we were able to put the conference on this year," said Melissa Carter, EVET board member.

Conference day two continues Wednesday.