Transformative Healing partners with RVAP to support survivors

After being defunded in 2017, Transformative Healing has partnered with RVAP to continue to provide support to sexual assault survivors of marginalized identities.


Ben Smith

RVAP is pictured on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Kate Pixley, News Reporter

After being defunded last year, Transformative Healing has teamed up with RVAP to continue to provide care to sexual-assault survivors of marginalized sexual and gender identities.

A 20 percent cut to victim services in Iowa in 2017 affected both RVAP and Transformative Healing, said Kimberly Andersen-Reed, the Transformative Healing coordinator for RVAP and former executive director of Transformative Healing.

The Crime Victim Assistance Board eliminated state funding for Transformative Healing in May 2017. The cuts caused the closing of the Sexual Abuse Hotline, formerly run by RVAP.

“Both RVAP and Transformative Healing were impacted by a 20 percent cut to victim services in the state of Iowa in 2017,” Andersen-Reed said in an email to *The Daily Iowan*. “As a result, three organizations in the state were defunded, the Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline [housed under RVAP] being one, and Transformative Healing was another. Transformative Healing, as a result, lost 90 percent of its funding.”

The budget cuts devastated Transformative Healing, she said, leading to layoffs and program closings. Transformative Healing’s goal is to provide holistic resources to survivors of sexual assault who identify with marginalized gender identities and sexual orientations.

“Transformative Healing works to end sexual violence in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual community and other sexually diverse communities through an empowerment and social-justice framework,” Transformative Healing’s website reads.

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RVAP Director Adam Robinson noted that results from the Speak Out Iowa campus survey indicated that homosexual and bisexual men and women experienced higher instances of sexual assault compared with their heterosexual peers. According to RVAP, 1 in 2 transgender individuals will experience some form of sexual violence in their lives.

“Informed by this data, and consistent with RVAP’s continued push to reduce as many barriers for services as possible, while evolving our services to become increasingly inclusive, we were very fortunate to be able to hire Kimmie Andresen-Reed this fall,” Robinson said in an email to the DI.

Andersen-Reed is optimistic about the future of Transformative Healing, both as a part of RVAP and beyond.

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“Over the last year, I’ve seen time and again how resilient the queer community is and how committed people are to maintaining these services and the spirit of Transformative Healing,” Anderson-Reed said. “Being defunded connected us to grassroots work and our own creativity and strength in a really powerful way. I hope that that spirit will continue to grow and that we will continue to heal and build back services. I really focus on all the successes that we’ve had so far in response to the crisis of being defunded. We are still here and serving survivors today, and I have a community to thank for that.”

Storm O’Brink, a former Transformative Healing employee and volunteer coordinator for RVAP, said she supports the continuation of Transformative Healing’s work.

“I think having more knowledgeable advocates on our team will increase the cultural competency of our colleagues and foster growth,” O’Brink said.

Andersen-Reed echoed that.

“Transformative Healing as a program of RVAP serves as another step to create inclusive services for LGBTQIA survivors,” Andersen-Reed said. “It’s been exciting to be full time again, honestly. It’s awesome to be in an office with other advocates and folks doing anti-violence work. That gives me a lot of energy to persist and renews my creativity.”