The Puerto Rico Health Justice Center (PRHJC) was created in December of 2015 following its predecessor’s, PASOS de las Mujeres, closure in October 2015. PASOS de las Mujeres was a project developed in 2002 at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus. PASOS provided comprehensive forensic clinical services for 13 years to over 1500 victim. The PRHJC, while continuing PASOS de las Mujeres work, now includes a greater diversity of comprehensive clinical forensic services, with a greater community, advocacy, public policy and research involvement to bring the voices of victim – survivors to the forefront, collaborating with committed professionals in the community, agencies and academia.
What we do
We offer comprehensive forensic clinical services to victim-survivors of sexual violence for children, adolescents and adults, from a victim centered, trauma informed, biopsychosocial and public health perspective, through a health justice process. The wellbeing of the victim-survivor is our priority. We also provide services for the support system of the victim – survivor.
To receive the services from the Center you do not need a referral, you only need to request them. Calling for an appointment is advised so a coordinated intervention can be provided.
Most services are free of charge as we may receive donations and obtain service grants. Those that aren’t, adjustments to meet the needs of the victim are made.
The comprehensive forensic clinical services consists of many disciplines: social work, psychology, medical, nursing, education and epidemiology.
All services are victim centered and professionals work from trauma informed base.
These services comprise the intervention of Social Workers and Psychologist trained in Forensic Interviews, Sexual Violence Evaluation, Evidence Based Expert Opinion, Court Testimony and Case Discussions.
After a needs-assessment, services are coordinated and advocacy interventions are done on behalf of victim’s needs, including: in-person public policy claiming, victim’s rights compliance, assurances and court presence and support. Participation and requests for case discussions are important for
We provide therapy services for victims and their support system as part of their healing process. These services may be individual or in groups. Also, our services include preparing victims for the judicial process (stress and emotional management). As part of these services, evaluations are done for the determination for the need of closed circuit during legal proceedings. Participants can be exposed to a trial setting.
General health history and physical assessment is done at the victim’s pace and tolerance, health needs assessment are tended to and services coordinated, as well as orientation and preparation for a forensic medical evaluation.
A Forensic Medical Evaluation is done when appropriate and when tolerated by the victim. When, for health justice reasons, evaluation needs to be prompt and not tolerated, it is done under sedation. The Nursing - Medical Intervention will provide follow up services, for health needs assessment and intervention, till the legal process is terminated and victim agrees to transfer to primary health service.
Education is an important part of services to victims. At our program it is essential to provide the necessary information so victims feel empowered, from the basics to the more complex parts of the process. In addition to give orientation to the families of our victims. We encourage to bring questions and develop educational material with the material requested by those we serve. We also provide educational experiences for professional development and volunteer experiences for community collaboration.
Forensic Epidemiology and Statistics:
Analysis of data is very important to understand trends and diversity. Our work is evidence based and we are continuously working to improve services. Much is unknown regarding sexual violence in Puerto Rico, information that is important for the healing of victims and the prosecution of offenders.