KC Currents
12:30 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Notes From A Career Advocating For Victims Of Sexual Assault

This month, Palle Rilinger retired after 27 years as a social worker and president of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.  MOCSA focuses on reducing the harm of sexual assault and abuse through treatment, prevention and advocacy.

According to MOCSA, one in six women nation-wide will be the victim of a completed or attempted rape. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused during childhood.

To find out more about how MOCSA's work has expanded over the decades, KCUR's Susan Wilson caught up with Palle Rilinger.

Interview Highlights

"One thing that I learned many years ago, even before MOCSA, was the whole victimology that for all of us to feel safer, it's much easier for us psychologically to blame the victim. That distances us from that person's experience. We don't have to be so empathetic--they caused it. That's self-protection. Unfortunately, that will always exist, but we can do whatever we can to minimize that."

"One of the things that has been very helpful [in improving the police response to sexual assault] has been the formation of sexual assault response teams which are multi-disciplinary teams to address issues of sexual assault and that has made a real difference."

"Earlier this year, and I'm not sure how it's being tracked . . . but we had more male rape victims that we saw in hospital emergency rooms than we had in a long time."

"One of the things that we at MOCSA are looking at is treatment methods to help these children heal from [being victims of child pornography]. Because it's one thing if you've been victimized in kind of a set or even a private setting. But here, not only are you a victim of a horrendous crime but then you're continuing to be re-victimized.  Who is viewing this? How do you ever regain your sense of control?"

"It's the mission, the organization which needs to be well-tuned in order to be most effective and efficient, and then the people.  And it's the people that make it work . . . the clients, the volunteers, the staff – that's what drives me."

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents podcast.