(1) Providing a Prevention Curriculum on Sexual Assault/Abuse
» Classes should always begin with information on:
(1) How the class should conduct themselves when talking about these issues, e.g. if you do not agree with someone else’s point, do not critique them directly but give a more generalised comment, so as to maintain an environment of open and honest discussion
(2) How if someone feels effected by these topics, they are welcome to discuss with another adult/person giving this class on why that they feel this way, during or after the class
(3) How this is a safe space, where everyone in the class is welcome to talk freely, respectfully, and personally
(4) Contact details of Voices Beyond Assault (VBA) and all other relevant officials/institutions at the beginning and end of the class, to allow students to reach out later, and to use whatever resource they feel is best suited for them
1. Early Education:
(1) Conceptual Foundations:
Although ‘consent’ is a central concept for anti-rape/sexual assault/abuse movements, it is more the idea of consent rather than the phrase itself that will be emphasised in the early years – e.g. respecting each other’s physical boundaries, creating safe and healthy inter-personal relationships
This is important as it will not only educate children on their own sexuality and encourage them to engage with this contemplation in the future, but it will also teach them about:
» Consent in regard to child sexual abusers, and when to tell another adult about an un-consensual situation
» Laying the principles for seeking a healthy and balanced sexual relationship in the future
(2) Clear and Concise Vocabulary:
» Using extremely clear and comprehensive vocabulary is crucial
» The phrases used in class must relate to the general idea of consent, in a simplified and personalised manner
» An example of the words to teach: touch, body, space etc.
» An instance which can be used to illustrate the meaning of these words to children: using the example of ‘if you want to hug another child, but they do not want you to then you cannot hug them because it is their body and they have a right to say no.’
» These empirical understandings will allow the child to develop a high level of emotional intelligence, through beginning to understand other people’s perspectives, likes, dislikes, and emotions from a very early stage
» This framework can also be easily built on later, where one can formally introduce the idea of consent
» The student’s understanding of these issues can then be progressed through the acting out of certain scenarios, and used as interactive practise for them to understand how these issues affect them in reality – such as, acting out a scene where one child takes another child’s pen without asking. Then retrospectively discussing how it made each of them feel, and why it is not okay to do that
(3) Educating Children to Express their Individual Preferences and Emotions:
» It is important to teach children that it is positive to display their range in emotions, regardless of whether they are negative or positive in nature
» Learning to identify and discuss these feelings can aid children to become more receptive to their feelings, both internally and with respect to other children
» This will encourage children to develop their empathetic side, while also being able to more clearly see when another child/adult is acting in a manner which makes them/another child feel uncomfortable
2. Middle School/High School
(1) Definition of Sexual Assault/Abuse/Rape
» It is important to provide a clear and concise definition of sexual assault/abuse/rape: for example, “an act whereby a person deliberately touches another person without their consent. This can be done through coercive, or physical forces.”
(2) Definition of Consent
» An introduction to the definition of ‘consent,’ is then the logical next step
» This builds well on the definition of sexual assault/abuse/rape, and is a necessary follow up within this discussion
» The definition is as follows: “the positive and mutual agreement, between two or more people, to engage in a sexual/intimate act. The person(s) involved must be acting in a free and non-compulsory fashion, while also having complete knowledge of the nature of the act they are carrying out.”
(3) Integration of These Concepts into a Role Play Scenario
» This will show students the many ways that these notions can be experienced in everyday life
» This exercise conveys the different faces of victims and attackers of sexual assault/abuse, as well as the alternative environments where these issues can be experienced
» For example, in a professional, casual, formal, leisurely, secluded, public area etc.
» Additionally, this will also display how these issues can appear in relations between an array of people, regardless of their sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, gender, age, class etc.
» This will demystify the issue of sexual assault/abuse and also put the statistics in perspective
» For example, although statistically sexual assault/abuse happens most commonly in heterosexual relationships, perpetrated by a man onto a woman, this is certainly not the only way it can transpire
» This will also further solidify the different nature of various interpersonal relationships, and what should/should not be accepted within them – to allow students to begin to consider different relationship boundaries
(4) Consent and Alcohol
» Alcohol becomes more of a prevalent issue within students’ lives during this stage in life
» At this age, students must begin to learn the role of alcohol/substances within these instances of sexual assault/abuse/rape, and its effect on consent
» A role-playing exercise could be of use here; through providing students with different situations where alcohol has been consumed and seeing how their reaction is to an admission of consent, or level of an individual’s intoxication
» To illustrate, person A is too drunk to be able to fully comprehend their whereabouts, and to give their official expression of consent – should person B still engage intimately with person A?
(1) Build Upon Definitions/Points Made Above
» University students should be introduced to the above definitions as well, through a brief presentation
» Although they will more than likely be familiar with them, it is important to provide formal definitions and reiterate the importance of these phenomena
(2) Workshop Exercises
1) Quiz Questions
» These initially start as being based around national/international statistics
» Students are given multiple choice questions, where they are asked to fill in the blanks of sentences, or answer a posed question
» The disparity between the students’ perception on the issue and the actuality of these instances could be stark in contrast; it is likely that students will presume that the rate of occurrence of sexual assault/abuse/rape is far lower than it actually is
2) Scenario Questions
» Students are divides the class into smaller subgroups and given pre-conceived and classic examples of when consent comes into question
» They will have to evaluate:
» Is consent given here or not?
» The aftermath of this event – how did the people involved in this situation feel afterwards?
» Then each subgroup is asked to discuss in the larger group of their whole class
» An example of this would be:
» I was out one night at a club after a long day of class. I was dancing with a group of my friends, when suddenly another person came up to me, pulled me in close towards them and touched my crotch. I was shocked, and said “I don’t know you,” to the person. They proceeded to do the same thing again, and laughed while doing so. I asked them to stop, which they then did. Questions:
» Where was consent given in this situation?
» How do you think the people involved felt during/after this instant?
» Did anything good/bad happen in this story? Describe.
3) Rape Myth Sheet & Contact Details
» Following this discussion, students will be provided with a sheet outlining society’s common misconceptions and stereotyped beliefs on what should/does happen following sexual assault/abuse/rape
» For example:
» MYTH: By saying nothing, you inadvertently give consent to another person
» ANSWER: Incorrect. No means no, but silence does not mean yes. People may feel that they must stay silent due to power structures, or positional imbalances between the person(s) involved. Checking in and making sure one another is okay before proceeding is always the best option before intimacy.
» Contact details of VBA, along with other related institutions/professionals will then be provided – to welcome anyone to come forward with their own story of sexual assault/abuse/rape
(2) Combat Against the Issue of Sexual Assault/Abuse
VBA has put together a global plan of action, in order to fight the rising issues of sexual assault/abuse and educate society on these detrimental phenomena. We believe it is not enough to merely state that we condemn acts of sexual assault/abuse – we want to actively work against these sexual crimes and reform the oppressive systems which sustain them.
With this objective in mind, VBA has centred this plan of action around 3 social entities:
» Our Community
» Our Cultural Norms
» Our Legal System
» All of the campaign projects below are set up to be easily globalised and distributable around the world
» VBA plans to implement this plan of action both nationally and internationally, to combat against the issues of sexual assault/abuse and end these violent abuses.
1. Our Community
1) Prevention Curriculum
» This is the program that we have detailed in the previous section, which is to be offered to schools, universities and corporate workplaces
» The details are as followed above, and serve as an important apparatus to influence public attitudes
» VBA’s Prevention Curriculum aims to positively shape our public’s viewpoint on sexual assault/abuse from their early stages of life until adulthood
» This program is important because it can impact our world’s prejudice by reforming and educating our society – generation to generation
2) College Campus Awareness Initiatives
» The college campus is one of the public spaces with the highest rate of sexual assault throughout our globe
» Therefore, VBA feels it is important for college-level students to have compulsory classes on this issue and be confronted daily with the facts of these crimes
» VBA wants to promote the protection of students throughout the world through these projects, by showcasing the different ways that we as a society can safeguard one another and end sexual assault/abuse
» For example, a College Campus Awareness Campaign could promote the bystander intervention strategy
» This would address the issue of sexual assault/abuse by training students to identify and intervene when they witness these crimes in their college domain
» The bystander intervention strategy advocates for students to be able to recognise when certain warning signs of sexual assault/abuse occur
» This can be used in regard to sexual assault/abuse, rape, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking
» This also heightens the level of responsibility that students should take in these circumstances, by showing them the role they can occupy and the impact it can have on someone else’s safety
» College Campus Awareness Campaigns can also stimulate a great deal of dialogue on sexual assault/abuse, which keeps this issue at the forefront and reminds us all of its prevalence in our everyday life
3) A Global Interorganizational Network
» Our other two community-based initiatives work to deconstruct and critique our society’s worldview, therefore VBA wants to organize an interorganizational network to reconstruct our society’s point of view on these issues through a more enlightened perspective
» This network would be a global initiative, whereby VBA creates an array of partnerships with other non-profit organizations
» This would create multilayered community of survivors around the world, connected through their shared experiences and the international organizations that aim to assist them
2. Our Legal System
1) Legislative Intervention
» The universal protection of our society ultimately always leads back to the legislative branch of governance
» VBA wants to highlight the significance of the legal realm; by reforming any laws that infringe on the wellbeing of our survivors, while also championing the laws that protect us
» For example: broadening the definition of rape which is enshrined in law – making it relate more to the concept of ‘yes means yes,’ rather than ‘no means no’ – this alludes to the importance of affirmative and unambiguous language encompassing whether to engage in sexual acts or not
2) Advocacy for Intersectionality in Police Reporting
» VBA promotes an intersectional approach to police reporting of sexual assault/abuse, to encourage more survivors to report their experiences, while also increasing their safety in society
» Intersectionality refers to the interconnected nature of the social categorisations of race, class and gender
» This applies to both individuals and groups
» This also plays into the overlapping systems of oppression which many survivors face in our global society
» To illustrate, there is an insufficient amount of empathy and consideration in the prioritisation of criminality within our current-day system
» Many records have shown that individuals are too afraid to report their experiences of domestic violence/sexual assault/abuse/rape to the police because of other lower-ranking criminal convictions they may have against them
» Such as, when an individual goes into a police department to report a violent experience they have undergone, the police may recognise them, or look up their records and see that they have a charge of drug possession against them – in this instance, the police officials commonly prioritise the need to arrest the individual for this drug offence over the need to investigate/record their experience(s) of domestic violence/sexual assault/abuse/rape
» This happens globally, and could be easily solved through an intersectional approach to the police reporting process – e.g. prioritising safety over criminality
3. Our Cultural Norms
1) Supporting Survivors to Self-Organize
» Many victims of sexual assault can be involved in intimate/long-term relationships with their abuser
» This can make the victim feel financially dependent on their abuser – which is also a form of financial/economic abuse
» Therefore, a job placement scheme could be productive for victims, to (1) encourage them to gain further confidence in themselves, (2) acquire experience in diverse work places, (3) obtain more professional qualifications/experience and (4) hopes of a brighter, more independent future
» VBA wants to create partnerships with various businesses (as the employers within this project) and ask them to partake in the programme by offering 6-9 month placements
» This programme could include a mandatory requirement of the employer to write (1) a reference for the person undertaking the placement, and (2) a detailed account of future steps they would recommend them to take to gain further employment in the future
» These employers would also find benefit in having these individuals within their organization, as through this project they would receive an enthusiastic and new employee for a fixed-term contract
2) Media Awareness Campaigns
» Media Awareness Campaigns can be on a range of platforms and are easily communicated across society
» Either online, on television, radio, billboards, etc.
» These campaigns have been created to challenge the conventional religious, social, and cultural attitudes which our society employs in regard to sexual assault/abuse
» This initiative covers a range of topics, for example – breaking down stereotypes of what rape looks like, who perpetrates it, and where it happens
» It is important to confront society with these issues and force them to contemplate these serious topics
» This would also force authority figures and public institutions to deal with sexual assault/abuse and employ further internal steps to combat against these brutal crimes
(3) Improving Accessibility to Sexual Assault/Abuse Resources
By improving the access to sexual assault/abuse resources, VBA aims to directly help the mental and physical wellbeing of our survivors. Sexual violence is a pervasive global problem with substantial consequences for the physical and psychological health of victims. However, many places around the world do not meet the demands of access to care for sexual assault/abuse survivors.
1. Improving Access to Sexual Assault/Abuse Resources
Health workers who provide care to survivors of sexual assault/abuse often lack training in sexual violence response and forensic evidence collection. Police are often not empathetic, lack the compassion, and/or take on an aggressive tone. Therefore, survivors of sexual assault/abuse face numerous hurdles in the aftershock of the crime. It is imperative that survivors have support, information, and resources readily available to them. VBA aims to work at improving the access to sexual assault/abuse resources to benefit our survivor’s emotional progression and overall wellbeing. Our team will be working diligently with health care officials, first responders, therapists, local and state officials, while also supporting any alternative initiatives which support sexual assault/abuse survivors. Survivors should not have to suffer more than they have already had.
2. Alternative Healing Resources
The effects of sexual trauma are very challenging to go through alone. Whether your trauma is recent or from your childhood, there are a number of methods that can act as tools for personal healing and advancement. Recovering is a process, and that process looks different for everyone. It may take weeks, months, or years; there is truly no set timeline.
It is essential that survivors face their traumatic memories, and process the thoughts and emotions related to it. This progression can help survivors change how they view their prior experiences of trauma and assault/abuse. Many survivors think that therapy is beneficial while others shy away from it – know that you’re not alone. However, emotional avoidance is a common PTSD symptom that prevents many survivors from seeking help. If we avoid our feelings and/or thoughts encompassing sexual trauma for too long, it can keep us stuck in suffering for longer than we need to be. VBA does not recommend emotional avoidance.
At VBA, we ask our survivors to identify any of the techniques from our offered programs (listed below) that best fitted for each of them to evolve past their experience(s) of trauma. We have researched a variety of alternative methods and are here to make sure that every survivor begins and continues their healing journey in the way that suits their soul. We’ve developed programs and events that can help survivors learn more about innovative options of therapy.
All VBA’s programs and events are created to promote: healing, self-love, self-care and a renewed confidence. Given a survivor’s individual needs, some methods of healing may suit some better than others, but they do not have to stick with any particular form and can utilise multiple.
3. Examples of Sexual Assault/Abuse Resources
The innovative therapy methods that we promote are:
- Spa treatments
- Group therapy
- Self-defence courses
- Yoga classes
- Meditation classes
- Pole dancing classes
The celebratory/therapeutic events we hold are: