Charlene A. Bernasko is a Prevention Coordinator for the Sexual Violence Response Office, beginning in December of 2019. Charlene comes to Sexual Violence Response with a commitment to providing trauma-informed care in anti-violence work. She has extensive years of experience working with and supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, family violence, childhood sexual abuse, forced marriage, and sexual assault and violence.
Prior to relocating to New York for her graduate studies, Charlene was a registered/licensed Social Service Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). During her 6 years as a licensed social service worker, Charlene worked in various capacities in residential and community settings with survivors who have experienced a spectrum of violence and abuse. Charlene brings relevant experience in the fields of trauma and violence, social activism, prevention through community awareness and capacity building and crisis intervention. Her background includes providing 24-hour crisis hotline support, providing individual psychotherapy, creating and facilitating group psychotherapy, trainings and workshops, crisis response and counseling, and advocacy for survivors of violence.
Charlene has experience in international anti-violence work, having worked with childhood sexual violence, forced marriage and working with spiritual/religious and traditional values in counseling, in Manzini, Swaziland (now Eswatini). In 2015, she worked in partnership with Crossroads International Canada and Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), a non-governmental organization that has been working for almost 30 years to end gender-based violence (GBV), sexual abuse and human trafficking in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), where she participated in staff capacity building through collaborative training.
Charlene first joined the Sexual Violence Response team in 2018 as an administrative intern while also pursuing her M.A. and Ed.M. degree in Psychological Counseling and Mental Health Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. During her time as a graduate intern, Charlene participated in discussions about sexual violence on college campuses, and spoke at campus awareness events such as Denim Day. Charlene is currently working on her New York State Department of Health Certified Rape Crisis Counselor Certificate. She is an avid learner and she is passionate about demystifying, empowering, and supporting survivors and community action for social change.
· Honors BA Women Studies and Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2006
· Social Service Worker Ontario College Diploma, George Brown College, Toronto, ON, Canada, 2008
· MA Psychological Counseling, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2019
· Ed.M. Mental Health Counseling, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2019
· 40hr. Crisis and Support Training Certificate, Sexual Assault Support Centre Of Waterloo Region, Kitchener, ON, 2004.
· Grounding: Trauma-Informed Strategies working w. Vulnerable Population, The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, Toronto, ON, 2013
· ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto, ON, 2014.
· Depression - Practical Intervention Strategies, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute Inc., Toronto, ON, 2014
· Seeking Safety Therapy for P.T.S.D. & Substance Abuse, Saint Michael’s Hospital - SUD School Addiction Medicine and Psychosocial Interventions, Toronto, ON. 2015