Just COVID-19: The Impact to Supporting Victims of Sexual Assault

Just COVID-19: The Impact to Supporting Victims of Sexual Assault


This week on Just Science, we are publishing a special release episode in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Social distancing, shelter in place, and other responses to COVID-19 can create a stressful environment for survivors of sexual assault especially if they feel they cannot access resources or are physically unable to seek help. In addition, highly stressful situations that result from significant amounts of change, such as unemployment, disruption in ‘normal’ activities, and social isolation may increase the risk of domestic violence and sexual assault. In this podcast, we will discuss what services are available to survivors of sexual assault, including leveraging on-line platforms and modified strategies for first responders, rape crisis centers, and victim advocates. We will also discuss how we as a friend, family member, and community can be prepared to respond to a victim of sexual assault in this challenging time.

In this episode Just Science interviews Ms. Marya Simmons, the Founder and CEO of Shift in Notion Consulting. Marya is a nationally recognized victim advocate and trainer with a specialty on the formation of multidisciplinary teams or sexual assault response teams and assisting agencies with developing policies and practices for improved responses to sexual assault. If you wish to contact Marya about additional resources or questions please email her at

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110]. If you haven't listened to last year's episode "Just the Evolution of Sexualt Assault Evidence Collection" with guest Dr. Pat Speck, find out more by clicking here.


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Guest Bio

Marya L. Simmons is the Founder and CEO of Shift in Notion Consulting, LLC, where she provides technical assistance, strategic planning consultation, and training to diverse audiences and communities on sexual assault, trauma-responsive and victim-centered best-practice approaches, domestic violence, victim advocacy, strengthening multi-disciplinary teams, life-skills and self-sufficiency, boosting leadership and supervision skills and techniques, and supporting families of homicide victims. Ms. Simmons is a consultant with RTI International as a subject matter expert in victim advocacy and a consultant with the State Medical Board of Ohio as a Victim Coordinator. Marya also serves as a Program Facilitator for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio where she oversees programming to elevate and promote confidence, self-sufficiency, inspire high self-esteem, influence respect and integrity amongst girls ages 5-17. Ms. Simmons is an international and national presenter, has two degrees in criminal justice with honors, she is currently enrolled in the Criminal Justice Administration Master’s Degree Program at Tiffin University, and she is also a member of Tiffin University’s Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society. Previously, Ms. Simmons was the Victim-Witness Unit Supervisor at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, and in this role she supported victims and witnesses throughout the judicial system process. Prior to joining the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, she was a Justice System Advocate for victims of sexual assault at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center where she supported survivors of sexual assault in that role. Marya is adept to working with diverse populations, providing crisis intervention, and supporting women diagnosed with chemical/alcohol dependency and mental health illnesses. Ms. Simmons is a Registered Advocate with Senior Standing with the state of Ohio, serves on the Executive Committee for the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Response Team and the Leadership Committee for the Women of Color Caucus, actively supported victims associated with Cuyahoga County’s CODIS Task Force (Untested Rape Kit Initiative) since 2013, and Ms. Simmons also received the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office’s 2016 award for Distinguished Contributions to Victim Advocacy.

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