What is the Empower Lab?

We are a clinical research and advocacy lab working to further gender equity through scientific approaches to issues of gender-based violence including sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence, female genital cutting, military sexual trauma and other issues that disproportionately affect low-income women in our globe and our global city, New York.

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Our Policy Agenda 

  • Providing comprehensive trauma-informed healthcare services for survivors of gender-based violence: Survivors of gender-based violence need trauma-informed care in primary care and gynecology, as well as a wide range of specialties and subspecialties. Current health care provider training on gender-based violence focuses on identifying victims, rather than on providing care that supports the health needs of survivors. Many medical providers are not comfortable addressing sexual violence and trauma in the provision of care. Expanding access to health care and supportive services for survivors of gender-based violence is critical. Services must be tailored to their needs and with respect to their experience. More medical professionals must be trained, not only on screening and identification but specialized care that follows these principles.

 

  • Conducting clinical research that focuses on the experiences of survivors of gender-based violence: Gender-based violence – which includes intimate partner violence, sex trafficking and female genital cutting - is difficult to measure. As a result, the prevalence is underreported and the impact is not well understood. Research is needed to better understand the experiences of survivors, their medical and social needs, and best practices for trauma-informed service provision. The EMPOWER lab conducts research to increase the body of evidence-based clinical knowledge, providing evidence for trauma-informed services and guidelines for clinical practice. Measuring the impact of gender-based violence on health and life of women is an important step for improving health outcomes for survivors.

 

  • Bringing attention to the intersection of gender-based violence and immigrant Americans: Many women experiencing gender-based violence are immigrant woman. Immigration status and sexual trauma can serve as a barrier to reporting instances of gender-based violence, and to seeking care. It is important that health service providers serving women recognize the barriers that immigration status can impose and work around them to provide women with quality care. This includes providing culturally competent services, economic support, and education in navigating the healthcare system in order to address the intersectional nature of gender-based violence.

 

  • Protecting the rights and dignity of survivors of gender-based violence: Care provided to survivors of gender-based violence must promote their rights and reflect their cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, discussion of survivors’ needs – including medical, social, educational, and legal needs - should be informed by the survivors themselves. The viewpoints and voices of survivors must take center stage in advocacy, so that survivors can regain the power and sense of self they lost in their moments of trauma, and thereby become active participants in their healing process. It is crucial for service providers - medical, social, legal, and governmental – to work together and alongside survivors of gender-based violence. Through collaboration, we aim to empower survivors by amplifying their voices and promoting their right to culturally-sensitive care.

  • Destigmatizing the experiences of women who have experienced sexual trauma: Survivors of sexual trauma often experience marginalization, stigmatization, isolation, and feelings of guilt and shame. These factors interfere with reintegration, and establishment of financial and social stability. We strive to increase public awareness of the prevalence of gender-based violence and address issues of sexual- and gender-based violence with consideration for the culture and communities of survivors.