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Trauma-Informed Lawyering for Defense Teams

Join Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC) to learn more about the effects of trauma on survivors, the impact on their legal goals, and tips on navigating communications in a trauma-informed manner. This specialized training program is meticulously designed for those who aspire to deepen their comprehension of Trauma-Informed practices. It offers a thorough exploration of the neurobiology of trauma, its specific implications within the legal context, and provides participants with effective trauma-responsive strategies for assisting clients who have endured traumatic experiences.


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  • February 13, 2024
  • 1:00 pm EST
  • Kristin Eliason and Shannarese Sims

  • Free Admission


Trauma-Informed Lawyering for Defense Teams

Kristin EliasonEsq. (she/her) serves at Head of Services at Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC), a nonprofit organization in the District of Columbia that provides holistic, trauma-informed, survivor-centered services to people who have experienced crime in the District. In her role, Kristin oversees NVRDC’s Legal Services, Crisis Response, Case Management, and Advocacy Services, Therapeutic Services, the Victim Legal Network of DC, and various restorative justice programs.

Kristin’s career working with survivors of crime began while attending the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, where she served as a student attorney in the Families and the Law Clinic representing survivors of domestic violence in various legal proceedings. Kristin has more than 13 years of experience representing survivors of crime, with the early part of her career spent serving survivors of intimate partner violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking. In early 2013, Kristin was hired as one of NVRDC’s first two staff attorneys, tasked with both representing clients and building out NVRDC’s Legal Services Program. As a result of her leadership and dedication to quality, trauma-informed legal services, Kristin has occupied a variety of supervisory positions at NVRDC, including senior attorney, supervising attorney, and Director of Strategic and Legal Advocacy. In addition to her continued representation of survivors of sexual violence, intimate partner and dating violence, and stalking, Kristin’s client and litigation experience since starting at NVRDC have included working with survivors of a variety of crime types, including surviving family members of homicide victims, gun violence survivors, survivors of child sexual abuse, identity theft, elder abuse, carjacking, burglary, and robbery. Kristin’s areas of practice have focused on Protective Order and Anti-Stalking Order matters, higher education misconduct proceedings under Title IX and the Clery Act, and the representation of crime victims in the assertion of their rights in criminal legal matters.

During her tenure at NVRDC, Kristin has pushed for the rights of crime victims through policy advocacy and strategic litigation, working with members of the DC Council and United States Congress to effect change through legislation and has served on various committees and coordinated community response groups, including the DC Superior Court’s criminal rules advisory committee, the DC Sexual Assault Advocate Credentialing Project Steering Committee, the Victim Assistance Network, and the District’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). From 2015 to 2020 Kristin served as a member of the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence Legal Advocacy group, which was instrumental in the major overhaul of the District’s Intrafamily Offenses Act in 2021. In 2023, Kristin was appointed by Chief Judge Josey-Herring to serve on the Crime Victims Compensation Advisory Commission and Appeals Board.

To expand the number of attorneys who provide free representation to survivors, Kristin has conducted CLE and pro bono trainings for law firm attorneys, including national and local training and CLEs on crime victims’ rights. Kristin serves as a trainer for the DC Forensic Nurse Examiners and the District’s Sexual Assault Crisis Response credentialing program. Kristin has served on various rulemaking committees, including the VAWA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee’s Stalking Subcommittee and the DC Superior Court’s Criminal Rules Advisory Committee. Kristin also participates in peer review sessions of grant applications submitted to the Office on Violence Against Women. In 2013, Kristin was selected to travel to Fiji as part of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative Pacific Fellow’s Women’s Rights Program.

Kristin’s passion for ensuring marginalized and oppressed people have access to the support and resources they need after experiencing crime which led her to being part of the Rainbow Response Coalition’s steering committee which designed a holistic district- wide healthy relationships education and outreach campaign for the LGBTQIA+ communities in the District. Kristin has served as a participant on various steering committees and roundtables conducted by the American Bar Association, including a 2022 roundtable on to assist in the creation of materials to assist prosecutors with jury selection in cases with LGBTQIA+ victims. Kristin also serves on Ayuda’s Language Access Program’s Advisory Board and was a peer reviewer during the development of the Breaking the Silence training manual which is used by Ayuda for training interpreters working with victim service providers. Kristin is passionate about providing survivors of crime with options outside of the traditional legal avenues and oversees NVRDC’s various restorative justice projects


Shannarese Sims, MA, LPC [she/her]

Shannarese (Reesie) Sims is the Director of Therapeutic Services at Network for Victim Recovery of DC. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University and practices as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Reesie’s interest in anti-violence work began as an undergraduate at The Ohio State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology/Community Health. After relocating to Washington, DC, Reesie worked at various victim service organizations and has accumulated over nine years of experience working with survivors of power-based violence. Her professional experience includes survivor-centered program development, crisis intervention and response, sexual assault support services, and psychoeducational group facilitation. She joined NVRDC in 2019 and in 2021, developed a therapy program to expand support for survivors of violence. In her role, Reesie oversees all operations and activities for the Therapeutic Services Program, carries a caseload of therapy clients, facilitates support groups, and maintains a comprehensive therapy resource guide for community referrals. Reesie strives to address the wellbeing of trauma survivors and remains steadfast in her commitment to eradicate power-based violence through advocacy, education, and trauma-informed services.


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