Hello AEA! My name is Nancy Breton, and I am the Sexual Violence Prevention Evaluator with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Much of my work focuses on ensuring state-funded sexual violence prevention education programs within New Mexico middle and high schools are effective, impactful, and sustainable. Over time, I noticed themes of behavior and its potential relationship with socioeconomic and demographic issues – especially within marginalized populations. I sought to understand state-specific root causes of sexual violence.
Luckily, our Sexual Violence Prevention program received supplementary funding from CDC, allocating $10,000 for this project. Because of the limited timeline (4 months to report findings – yikes!), I had to focus in to feasibly create a thorough report by the deadline.
Rad Resource: The 2016 Sex Crimes Trends in New Mexico report states that the American Indian/Native American population comprised 15% of New Mexicans who reported experiencing sexual violence, even while comprising less than 10% of the state population. Given this was a pilot project with limited funds and time, I decided to work with the Native population within the Albuquerque area. Finding partners for this project was not easy, as there is historical trauma associated with government “research” on this population. I worked hard to create a relationship with various partners, which has been quite rewarding.
Lessons Learned: The information from this project is sacred and private – this community owns the data and will choose who and how it will be shared, should they choose to. Still, I learned a few lessons that I feel are pertinent for other evaluators:
- “Evidence-based”: This term can be subjective. Marginalized populations have practiced their own forms of research within their community. Be sure to empower them as knowledge brokers.
- Asset Mapping: Think about and ask the community what they see as limitations, but, also, what strengths they can identify to address their concerns.
- Serve vs. Help: Unless the community identifies you as one of its own, you are an outsider. Therefore, act in service to this community. They are not helpless.
- Complete and Absolute Partnership: If a community will be affected by your report then include them throughout deciding what is important to investigate, what should be reported, and who should have access to the data.
- It Takes Time: Building community relationships is an important component of ethical evaluation, even if funding deadlines make that difficult. Face-to-face meetings and maintaining rapport will show your dedication to serve, and will create invaluable partnerships. Co-leading with members of the community and adequately compensating all those involved would be a model.
I hope this helps! To see more of NMDOH and our partners’ efforts to prevent sexual violence in New Mexico, check out our site: https://nmhealth.org/about/erd/ibeb/svsp/. Keep up the amazing work!
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