This event is free, but registration is required.

Program Overview

The importance of trauma-informed healthcare becomes more evident every day. Dr. Tracey Shors, a Distinguished Professor in Behavioral & Systems Neuroscience and Psychology and a member of the Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University, will share her expertise regarding the neurobiology of women who have experienced sexual trauma. Attendees will have the opportunity to listen to Dr. Shors’ research and watch a performance by Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance’s improvisational theater group, SCREAM theater. Understanding the biology behind this trauma will allow people, especially members of the medical community, to better understand what might be occurring in the brains of sexual assault victims and how it may manifest in their bodies and behaviors.

Who benefits from this symposium?

Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals should gain a better understanding of the mental processes occurring in the minds of sexual assault survivors be able connect the biological component with the emotional aspect of this trauma. They will better understand the effect sexual assault may have on a person’s approach to their own healthcare (why might they fear going to the doctor, what are some barriers this trauma creates to healthcare?). Joining the MAP training demo led by Dr. Shors will help healthcare professionals understand how a combination of mental training, meditation, physical training, and aerobic exercise has been shown to help women suffering from the mental and physical effects of sexual assault. They may be able to use this information to help patients who have experienced similar trauma. Healthcare professionals should be able to leave with a better understanding of how treatment of patients who have suffered from sexual assault trauma may differ from treatment of patients who have not experienced the same.

Medical Students

Attending this symposium will allow medical students to incorporate information of interpersonal violence, specifically sexual assault trauma, into their medical education, which they otherwise may not receive. They will also be able to see how these biological processes manifest in a person’s behavior. Medical students will be able to use the information presented at this symposium throughout their entire medical career. Understanding the struggles of sexual assault survivors will help them become better doctors by providing them with a different perspective and approach to treatment.

Public Health Professionals and Students

The information discussed at this conference will demonstrate how sexual assault should also be regarded as a public health issue. People who attend this event will understand that the trauma resulting from sexual assault affects many aspects of survivors’ lives, including how they regard their own health. Public health professionals and students will be able to better understand how sexual assault affects a person’s health in more ways than just the obvious few, and maybe use this information to create new initiatives.

Academics and Graduate Students

Considering the doubt that still exists around the validity of sexual assault trauma, attending a symposium that discusses the biology behind sexual assault may help some people better understand how sexual assault is a real issue with very real effects. People who may not have much knowledge about sexual assault but who are comfortable talking about science will find this symposium very useful in understanding a serious issue in a more familiar context.

Undergraduate Students

Participating in this event will provide undergraduate students with information they may not learn in their classes or elsewhere. Understanding the effect of this sort of trauma will help students in their training to become well-informed and compassionate healthcare professionals. Students who are pursuing other career fields will also find the content of this symposium to be very interesting and informative. Biology and sexual violence are two subjects that are not commonly discussed together, so this is a unique opportunity for any students curious about these topics.

Speaker Bio: Tracey Shors, PhD

Dr. Tracey Shors is Distinguished Professor in Behavioral & Systems Neuroscience and Psychology and a member of the Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University. She is also Vice Chair and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Shors received her doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Southern California. She did postdoctoral training in neurophysiology at USC and spend time at Princeton University and Genentech before joining the faculty of Rutgers. With more than 140 scientific publications, Dr. Shors is committed to helping people overcome the stress and trauma of everyday life, with a special interest in helping women who have experienced sexual trauma. Based on her research, she developed MAP Training, which stands for Mental And Physical Training. MAP Train My BrainTM is an established brain fitness program that combines mental training with meditation and physical training with aerobic exercise. Doing both of these activities together can lessen depression, anxiety and traumatic thoughts about the past, while enhancing brain and whole body health (see The MAP Training program has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, NBC News, Time Magazine, and NPR.  Dr. Shors wants to make MAP Training accessible to everyoneone because it is relatively easy to do, does not require much time or expensive equipment – and it works.

Symposium Videos

Find out how you might benefit from attending the Science Behind Sexual Assault Symposium.

Dr. Shors explains what to expect from the Science Behind Sexual Assault Symposium.