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April 21, 2015

Justice Department honors MSU scholar for changing national response to rape

The U.S. Department of Justice on April 21 recognized a Michigan State University psychology professor with a prestigious award for improving the national understanding of – and response to – sexual assault.

Rebecca Campbell received the Vision 21 Research Award as part of the National Crime Victims’ Rights Service Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Campbell was one of 12 people and teams recognized for their efforts on behalf of crime victims. Attorney General Eric Holder honored Campbell and the other recipients.

As one of the first researchers to focus on violence against women, Campbell has for the past 25 years conducted research with an emphasis on sexual assault, coordinated community responses, untested rape kits and the neurobiology of trauma.

Campbell had improved both the nation’s understanding of sexual assault and medical and criminal justice professionals’ response to sexual assault victims, the DOJ said.

Most recently, Campbell was the lead investigator of a high-profile project that helped Detroit solve its problem of untested rape kits. "Our goal with the Detroit project," she said, "was to right a wrong and to bring justice to rape survivors."

Campbell's research focuses on gathering data that helps victim advocates develop effective and appropriate responses to victims that minimize trauma and being victimized again. Her work on the impact of trauma on a survivor’s ability to participate in the criminal justice process has transformed the way law enforcement responds to victims in several communities including Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Memphis and Salt Lake City, according to the DOJ.

Campbell also was honored recently by the American Psychological Association for her work to help sexual assault victims.

The DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and hosts an award ceremony each year. President Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance takes place April 19-25, with the theme “Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims.”

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