Application Open! 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council

The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) is pleased to open the selection process for the the 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council. The Council will be comprised of twelve (12) youth, ages 13-17, who are committed to working hard, promoting advocacy and leadership which will shape the direction, content and marketing efforts for the 2023 Young Advocates Institute.

In an effort to ensure that the council is accessible and representative of our state’s rich diversity, we encourage students from all across North Carolina to apply to the council as we will use video conference call services for meetings. 

About the Young Advocates Institute
Launched in 2011, the Young Advocates Institute is a social justice summer learning initiative that empowers and trains 200 youth, ages 13-17, from across North Carolina during a week of prevention/intervention education, advocacy and leadership development seminars. The purpose of the Young Advocates Institute is to give youth a voice, the opportunity to share experiences regarding social justice issues and help them become an integral part of the solutions. To date, the Institute has trained over 2,000 youth and adult allies. In 2023 the Young Advocates Institute will celebrate its 12th year of service.

Duties of the Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council 

Selected council members will serve for an one (1) year term are expected to:

The Advisory Council will have access to:

The application for the 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council is now open. We encourage applicants who are enthusiastic, creative, willing to work with a team and possess a want to learn about varied social justice issues to apply.  No previous experience is required.

To apply to be a member of the 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council, complete the online application available at

by Friday, November 11, 2022

The selected council members will be announced on Friday, November 18, 2022.

If you have any further questions, contact Tracy D. Wright at (919) 871-1015 or via email at

Registration is now OPEN for NCCASA’s Fall 2022 Member Meeting.  During our virtual time together we will provide NCCASA updates, opportunities to connect with other advocates in small groups and a workshop “Moving Grief”.  “Moving Grief” will be lead by Chesla Nickleson Licensed, Hospice Chaplain training to be a sex therapist at the Institute of Sexuality Education and Enlightenment) and AW Shields a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Movement Chaplain. This workshop will create a chance for Movement Leaders (you all) a space to identify, process the burden of grief that is a common experience in our work. This workshop is designed to educate participants about various aspects of grief and provide a safe space to practice processing grief in helpful ways individually and communally. 


Click here to register. 

The conference planning begins so quickly, it's hard to believe, but the time is here! This year, NCCASA will convene a committee of individuals from advocates at community sexual assault programs, trauma therapists, program directors and members of underrepresented communities to help plan the annual conference.

 Submit an Interest Form by September 31st and help create the theme, topics, materials, desired workshops, and more!

 If you are selected as a committee member...


Plan to meet via conference call in late October.

You will take part in deciding the theme of the conference, keynote selection and workshop selection / topic development.

Registration will be waived!

Most of the committee work will be in email communication, conference calls and workshop selection. We are seeking committee members from all across NC state and look for 1 representative per interested agency to support this diversity of perspectives.

 Contact Deanna for any questions regarding the conference or steering committee application at

The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) is pleased to announce and open applications for the 2022 Young Advocates Institute Summer, July 13-17, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. 

This year is the 11-year anniversary of the Young Advocates Institute. For over a decade, the Young Advocates Institute has been a rigorous training ground for over 1,800 youth across North Carolina. Merging the prevention/intervention of sexual and dating violence +social justice + education + advocacy + love + hip hop and popular culture lens + intergenerational approach, the Young Advocates Institute is a soulful and liberating experience.

Still grappling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Young Advocates Institute made the tough decision not to host its traditional offering of 200 youth on a college campus.   Instead, this year fifty (50) youth, ages 13-17, will be selected to participate in the 2022 Young Advocates Institute. In addition, we will host a four (4) day meeting at a hotel in theRaleigh-Durham area, virtual session in August and  an end of year conference call in December.

The Young Advocates Institute now has an application process. The application is a tool to further enhance an active, interactive, and dynamic setting for students to grow their knowledge and skills.

  • The learning style question helps with the content design
  • The leadership style question helps with group dynamics
  • The short answer questions provide an opportunity to see how students feel and what matters to them

The expectation is a rich learning environment that is shaped by the gifts of lived experience and the multiple perspectives of the students we serve.

Apply for the 2022 Young Advocates Institute online at


The deadline to apply for the 2022 Young Advocates Institute is 5pm on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Applicants of the 2022 Young Advocates Institute will be notified on or before Monday, June 27, 2022.

Attached you will find:

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at (919) 871-1015 or via email

A Reckoning 

On May 22 Guidepost Solutions released to the public a report of their investigation into the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee that had been the center of a swirl of accusations regarding its handling of reports of sexual abuse  perpetrated by leadership within the network of Southern Baptist Churches across the US. 


The report revealed a pattern of systemic abuse, cover up, stonewalling and refusals to investigate or report to law enforcement sexual assault and child sexual abuse. In some cases there were repeating pleas from church members for the leadership to look into cases of child sexual abuse and rape that continued to happen, and cases in which abusive church leaders remained in ministry, or moved from church to church, free of any accountability.


It made plain what survivors and advocates had been saying for decades. It vindicated the survivors who had suffered considerable spiritual abuse by members of the committee  in the form of harassment, intimidation, and multiple attempts to ruin their names and silence their voices. These survivors persisted, protested, and organized at great cost to themselves, bringing to light what was fought so hard to keep in the shadows.


The report also revealed that the Executive Committee kept a running list of names of over 700 perpetrators. This list was not kept to stop or protect others from them, but for their own legal protection. The members of the SCB Executive Committee did not use their knowledge of names, victims, and places to report or stop of the sexual violence from occuring. As in many instances of insitutionalized sexual violence, files were kept in secret. That list was published today. 


In November 2017, the hashtag #churchtoo began to appear alongside of #metoo to create a space for survivors who had suffered sexual abuse  by church leadership. Outrage against survivors and allies was swift and sure. The status quo blustered about insubmissive, outspoken women, and complained loudly of “trauma culture,” in which victims claim a celebrity status, welding power to hold hostage cultural institutions by their cry of rape and oppression.” 


Survivors did not back down. 


As many of us have watched this reckoning, Big Names and Big Institutions fell under the weight of survivor testimonies, allies who believed them, and Christian investigative journalists’ podcasts, blogs and articles.  No doubt these days have been filled with anxiety and trauma for survivors. This blog post shares ways we can better understand the unique dynamic of sexual with spritiual abuse, and ways we can support survivors. 

Sexual Abuse in the Context of Spiritual Abuse

There is an opportunity for us to lean into this work and welcome survivors from faith communities, acknowledging the harm of sexual abuse that takes place with communities of faith that is complex and unique to each individual. 


Spiritual abuse is a form of psychological abuse that can happen when a person uses shared beliefs, sacred writings and threats of exposure to exert power and control over another individual or group. Spiritual abuse by one person against their partner to control might  be more easily recognized and  associated with intimate partner violence, but there is also a distinct dynamic in which sexual violence is leveraged within relgious communities, and manipulated to gain dominance over a person or group, particularly young people.


Abusers of sexual violence use their positions of spritual or denominational authority and influence who twist shared views of religious writings and practices to brainwash victims into believing coerced sexual “acitvity” is sanctioned by God. The abuser uses the responsibility to serve and protect the religious community from outsiders to keep a victim silent and “complicit.” Abusers often take advantage of young people’s lack of knowledge about their bodies and sex, combined with religious sounding “teaching” that keeps victims trapped in shame and confusion. Many victims carry this confusion into their adult years of marriage, and are unable to distinguish between consenual and nonconsenual sexual activity.


Often a loyal following, spiritual and intellectual dependence ensures that any outcry would never be believed. These abusers can be leaders who enjoy a protected status who often remain  aloof, alone and unaccountable, though well-loved and respected. Toxic church cultures can create situations in which abusers who are not leaders, but use their proximity to power to take advantage of others, especially by “policing” young people’s modesty and proper behavior within dating and marital relationships by requiring confession and “accountability.” Often these communities adhere to a rigid social order that does not invite transparency or inquiry. It is an atmosphere in which sexual violence can flourish and abusers can hide because they position themsevles as  “godly” people who hate wickedness. Sometimes abusers use exaggerated performative measures to be “careful” around women who are not their wives. 


Alternatively, sexual abuse can hide among more welcoming congregations that do not look on one another with suspicion and distrust. Abusers are often well-liked, kind and generous. They have groomed their community to regard them as members of their own family who want their young teens or adults to spend time with them. Their grooming looks exactly like the ministry expected of them. The congregation’s naivete and trust is manipulated, as he would be the very last person to suspect any kind of harm.

How do we heal?

This kind of emotional abuse can be very damaging and extremely confusing to a survivor, as a person’s spiritual faith and convictions  is a deeply personal aspect of a person’s  life and identity. 


Survivors are burdened with untangling what was false and harmful from what remains true in spite of the harm. 


There IS hope for healing! But it is messy and requires a lot of untangling things.This kind of abuse is so complex because there are so many layers of trauma to unpack and questions to answer: Who is safe? Who was complicit? If I could be deceived this way, what else am I deceived about? Who am I? What do I still believe? Is this God’s fault? What lies about myself have I believed? What needs deconstructing?


ALL those questions and feelings are normal, but it feels so scary. People take sides and call us names, say that we are bitter and unforgiving. But our healing is not for them! It is for ourselves! Healing takes time, and there is no one way and no straight path.


For advocates, there are many ways we can support survivors of sexual and spritual abuse. It’s important to meet survivors where they are and not assume we know all the ways they are processing their own spiritual needs: Some may want nothing more to do with religion and others may seek comfort from those very things that harmed them. We need to constantly check our own bias about our own internal experiences and feelings about communities of faith. Survivors can find it difficult to make choices and be confused by empowerment language when coming from a place with strict gender roles. Survivors can swing from hating to desperately clinging to their faith community. They may continue to pay reverence to their abuser in ways that can seem strange. 


We can also help those in the faith community practice non coercive ministry that :

  • believes survivors 
  • holds abusers accountable
  • de-centers a persons’ desire to minister and help, while centering (prioritizing) the survivor and what they actually need. 
  • practices awareness that touching, laying hands on, and asking how to pray, hugging, and crying on without consent can feel threatening and manipulative
  • asks for consent before touching or praying for or with someone
  • does not ask for or shares survivors' stories as prayer requests. They must understand that caring does not entitle a person to information or access to that person.
  • honors how the survivor defines what safety is to them .


Ultimately survivors determine their own pace, place, and people who get to be part of their journey. If invited, we walk alongside with gentleness and affirmation. 


If you see yourself in this narrative and want to talk to someone, reach out to your nearest rape crisis center. Many times we wait until well after the abuse to seek help. Please reach out to us if you need to connect with a place where you can receive support.


I write this in hope. I am a survivor of both sexual and spiritual abuse. I am still healing. I still practice my faith, and over the years have cultivated a deep sense of belonging and purpose through it, despite the great harm I have experienced. Hope rooted in a sure place is a mighty powerful thing. What happened to me is one part of one chapter, and my story is still being written. 


Courtney Dunkerton

Human Trafficking Program Coordinator


We hope that you will join us for NCCASA's Spring 2022 Member Meeting.  We will gather in virtual community on Tuesday 6/14/22 from 10am-3pm. Breaks will be provided throughout the day, including an hour lunch break.  NCCASA is excited to meet with members and hear directly from you and allowing space for peer sharing. Click here to register.

NCCASA, alongside the nation, has been processing the leaked Supreme Court draft decision that was released on Monday night. At NCCASA, we know that reproductive justice is essential to ending sexual violence, and the impacts of this pending decision will impact survivors across North Carolina and the nation. Advocates and survivors intimately know that intimate violence is centered in power and control and oftentimes, harm doers use reproductive choices, or lack thereof, against a survivor. 


NCCASA believes that in order to end the cycle of power and control in violence cases, survivors must have options to seek personalized medical care, have a variety of healthcare options, and ultimately, the option to make their own reproductive choices. Limiting this access will disportionately impact marginalized communities, and could ultimately result in more harm and violence for survivors. 


While the news about the potential Roe decision is upsetting, NCCASA wants to assure survivors that we are a resource. Currently, Roe stands. In North Carolina, abortion care is available, and there are resources for survivors needing access to reproductive care across the state. 

Courtney Dunkerton, NCCASA Human Trafficking Program Coordinator

This month we have the opportunity to support survivors with mental health needs by raising awareness, fighting stigma, and supporting efforts that promote mental wellness. We can also provide greater access to information about hotlines, local mental health service providers and services that contribute to mental wellness. We can also support practices and policies within our organizations that promote mental wellness not only for survivors but also employees.


However, even with all the existing and emerging information on the prevalence and impact of mental illness, a great deal of stigma remains in our US culture. We have the opportunity to educate others in our collective networks and relationships that mental illness does not originate in individual choices or failures. 


Understanding the prevalence of mental health needs is a way to reduce stigma around mental illness. Here are some numbers from The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)’s Infographics: Mental Health By the Numbers:


  • 1 in 5 US adults experience mental illness
  • 1 in 20 US adults experience serious mental illness
  • 17% of youth (6-17 years) experience a mental health disorder
  • 1 in 5 young people report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health
  • 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have diagnosable mental health conditions
  • About 2 in 5 people who are incarcerated have a history of mental illness
  • 66% of women in prison reported having a history of mental illness
  • Among incarcerated people with a mental health conditions, non-white individuals are moer liely to be held in solitary continemenst, be injured and stay longer in jail
  • Overall suicide rate in the US has increased by 35% since 1999
  • Suicide in the 10th leading cause of death in the US and the 2nd leading cause of death  among people aged 10-34 in the US


Most importantly, we must center the significant mental health needs among marginalized communities:


  • Latina immigrants meet the threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis at nearly four times (34%) the rate of civilian women in America overall (9.7%)


  • Research suggests that LGBTQ+ individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.




    • Despite rates being less than the overall U.S. population, major depressive episodes increased from 9 percent-10.3 percent in Black and African American youth ages 12-17, 6.1 percent to 9.4 percent in young adults 18-25, and 5.7 percent to 6.3 percent in the 26-49 age range between 2015 and 2018.
    • Black and African American people living below poverty are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living over 2x the poverty level. 
  • Adult Blacks and African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites. 
  • Blacks and African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide at all ages. [8] However, Black and African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than White teenagers (9.8 percent v. 6.1 percent).


Survivors of sexual abuse need mental health support. The research from “Sexual abuse and lifetime diagnosis of psychiatric disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Mayo Clinic proceedings vol. 85,7 (2010): 618-29, concludes that “a history of sexual abuse is associated with an increased risk of a lifetime diagnosis of multiple psychiatric disorders.” According to the research, these diagnoses  included anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, and suicide attempts.


Provide information on:


May is a great time to focus on creating more equitable access to resources and information that support wellness for the whole person. Mental health is a key part of that support. 


Inscríbete en La Cumbre de Prevención Virtual, Conversaciones comunitarias sobre justicia social y de géneros. Acompáñanos durante dos sesiones virtuales el 18 y 23 de mayo para crear/refrescar nuestro ámbito de trabajo contra la opresión y para enumerar las causas fundamentales de la violencia sexual en nuestras comunidades. Para ello, contamos con líderes en este campo que incluyen a: Chimi Boyd-Keyes, Deena Fulton, Root Cause Collective, Minority Sex Report, y muchos más, y que nos ayudarán a pensar en formas de integrar nuestros esfuerzos de prevención y establecer colaboraciones comunitarias, a fin de prevenir toda forma de violencia contra todas las personas.

Haz clic aquí para ver la agenda y las descripciones de las sesiones. La cumbre es gratuita para los miembros de NCCASA, y $25 para los que no son miembros- haz clic aquí para inscribirte. La página de inscripción es en inglés.  Haz clic en la palabra “Translate” (Traducir) en la esquina superior derecha y selecciona la opción "Spanish" (Español) de la lista desplegable para ver la versión en español.

Esta cumbre incluirá:

  • 4 sesiones plenarias de grupos grandes
  • 1 panel de debate
  • Oportunidades para discusiones en grupos pequeños para fomentar la comprensión dentro y fuera del movimiento contra la violencia
  • 10 horas de entrenamiento
  • Sesiones opcionales de autocuidado
  • Interpretación en ASL y español; subtítulos automáticos en vivo a través de Zoom


¡Haz clic aquí para inscribirte!