Making an IMPACT

Last week, IMPACT’s work was featured in the Boston area about their work with sport and prevention of sexual violence and harassment. IMPACT, a RALIANCE grantee, has created a curriculum that could prove to be a national model for addressing sexual violence for athletes with disabilities. Take a moment and learn more about their work.

RALIANCE believes that sport can be part of the solution to end sexual and domestic violence in one generation. To learn more about our work and resources check out the Sport and Prevention Center:

Correcting the Record on Human Trafficking

With the recent arrest of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in Florida as part of a broader law enforcement sting operation, and challenging issues involving human trafficking and sexual exploitation were thrust back into the public spotlight.

Human trafficking is a serious and widespread problem that impacts thousands of people across the United States and the world. Women of color, transgender people, children and other marginalized populations are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

Although the recent news has prompted an important dialogue about trafficking, it has also revealed widespread public misconceptions about the issue. Here are three things everyone should know about human trafficking:

Human trafficking is a form of sexual violence.

The behaviors that comprise sexual violence exist on a spectrum, from sexual harassment to violent assault. When individuals who are underage and/or unable to choose are forced into sex work without their consent, that is inarguably a form of sexual violence. Like all forms of sexual violence, the victims of trafficking deserve support and are never to blame. Serious cases like this one aren’t fodder for jokes or trash talk between rival sports fans. Reports of sex trafficking increase each year in the United States, and rates of trafficking frequently rise in conjunction with major sporting events which draw large crowds and increase demand for sex.

All of us have a role to play in helping to end trafficking, which can occur right in front of us in plain sight — on streets, in hotels and motels, at truck stops and airports, in restaurants and massage parlors, and in our own neighborhoods.

Sexual exploitation should NEVER be for sale.

There are important distinctions when we talk about human trafficking. Trafficking victims are exploited and forced into actions without their consent. Human traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to manipulate adult victims into engaging in commercial sex acts in exchange for money, debt repayment, or something of value. According to the U.S. Department of Human Services, individuals, circumstances, and situations vulnerable to traffickers include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced people, refugees, foreign workers on visas, migrant workers, international and domestic job seekers, foreign nationals looking for better life opportunities in the United States, children and adolescents, people with drug addictions.

There is a power dynamic that must be acknowledged whereby consent and choice are taken from trafficked individuals. Conflating sexual exploitation with  prostitution is disturbingly common in public discourse, a trend that only serves to reinforce the stigma sex workers face while simultaneously minimizing the harm to trafficking victims by diminishing the impact of their exploitation.

Ending trafficking requires systemic change and holding the powerful accountable.

While individual cases can serve as important moments to focus the public’s attention on this important issue, no one law enforcement action can end systemic problems. Instead, we must keep the focus on the broader cultural factors that enable sex trafficking. Trafficking is driven by supply and demand: the demand for commercial sex regardless of the conditions, treatment, and well-being of those involved leads traffickers to commit serious crimes and violate the consent and dignity of their victims, all in an effort to provide a sufficient supply to meet the demand. Both the traffickers and those driving demand and supporting the industry must be held accountable.

Leaders of organizations like sports teams, Fortune 500 companies, or political offices have a particularly important role to play. Organizations can and should hold every member of their staff accountable for actions that violate organizational values and their code of conduct. Leaders also set an example for members of their organization and the general public to follow that by not participating in the commercial sex industry, they can reduce the demand for sex trafficking.

For more information about human trafficking, please visit NSVRC’s toolkit on Sexual Assault Response.

The Human Trafficking National Hotline [is 1-888-373-7888.

Sport is Part of the Solution to End Sexual and Domestic Violence – Watch the Web Conference

With millions of young people participating in sport every year, sport is uniquely positioned to take action toward ending sexual and domestic violence. Sport develops young people by teaching skills, values, and practices which can get to the root causes of sexual and domestic violence to prevent it.

Speakers Alan Heisterkamp of the University of Northern Iowa, Valencia Peterson of Open Door Abuse Awareness & Prevention, and Ward Urion of LifeWire will share how they have been able to develop partnerships with school programs, coaches, and athletes to help implement prevention strategies in athletics.

Sport can be part of the solution to ending sexual and domestic violence. Join us February 13, 2019 at 3:30 pm Eastern as RALIANCE partners with PreventConnect for an informative webinar on how you can harness the power and influence of sport to prevent sexual and domestic violence in your community. 

By the end of the presentation, participants will be able to:

1. Identify key elements of how secondary and youth athletic programs can instill personal responsibility, promote respectful behavior, in working to prevent sexual violence and relationship abuse.

2. Describe the values of partnerships between sexual and domestic violence prevention experts and high school sport programs and coaches.

3. Identify challenges and solutions to working with and within athletic programs and administrators on sexual and domestic violence prevention.

RALIANCE and UCSD Host Dialogue on Sport and Sexual Violence Prevention

This past week, RALIANCE and UC San Diego Center on Gender equity and health (GEH) hosted researchers from across the country to come together in Houston, Texas to discuss sport and sexual violence prevention. This meeting builds on last year’s Researcher Think Tank and Sport + Prevention Center recommendations for next steps research and evaluation

The attendees spent the day reviewing new research, exploring partnership opportunities, and discussing potential policy recommendations for a wide-range of disciplines, including sport management, sociology and social work. 

The group also agreed to continue working together to ensure that youth and young adult voices are heard in conversations about how to prevent sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse in athletics.    

RALIANCE believes that sport can be part of the solution to end sexual and domestic violence in one generation. To learn more about our work and resources check out the Sport and Prevention Center:

The Art of an Apology: What the Catholic Church continues to get wrong on sexual abuse

With the Catholic Church convening last week for a historic summit on sexual abuse, one might be tempted to think that finally, one of the world’s largest and most powerful organizations is taking responsibility and addressing the systemic failures that enabled the sexual abuse suffered by thousands at the hands of clergy members all around the world.

But as advocates for sexual abuse prevention and for the survivors of these horrific crimes, the Church’s decades-long response as story after story has come to light has been woefully insufficient.

Until the Church apologizes, fully and without qualification, for years of covering up and enabling abuse, it will fall far short of its mission. It is not enough to simply say mistakes have been made. There must be an expression of regret for the ways in which perpetrators have been given free access to vulnerable people across the communities, leading the systemic abuse of women and children. Atrocities and perpetrators must be named, including those who colluded with perpetrators and covered the crimes to protect the institution, and concrete action steps must be taken to prevent these crimes from ever happening again. A pledge that cases will be handled internally is insufficient and only reinforces the culture of secrecy that has enabled the abuse; clear and transparent protocols should be put in place for reporting sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse to an outside entity that is accountable to survivors.

Faced with the staggering scale of the crimes perpetuated under the Church’s watch, an apology seems like the bare minimum. And yet, even as the Church has begun to acknowledge and grapple with the damage that decades of abuse has wrought, it has been in half-measures, rather than a complete accounting.

Researchers have found six components of an effective apology. Here, instead, is what the Church could have done, should have done, and must do in the future to communicate their apology and do right by the survivors of sexual abuse:

“We are deeply sorry to every single person who has suffered abuse at the hands of one of our leaders, in whom they placed their valuable trust.”

“For too long, we as a Church have prioritized secrecy and protecting our own over uncovering the truth and helping prevent sexual abuse.”

“We are solely to blame for the abuse of thousands, and the suffering they and those who love them have endured.”

“We apologize fully and unequivocally to any and all who have been harmed by our neglect.”

“Going forward, we are implementing meaningful changes to ensure this never happens again. We will work with local authorities to investigate allegations of abuse, rather than simply conducting an internal investigation. And we pledge to refer victims and families to rape crisis centers and other qualified counselors in their communities to support healing on their own terms.”

“We hope that those we have wronged can find it in their hearts to excuse our sins.”

Beyond a comprehensive apology, representatives of the Church will only truly account for their actions if they name that they knowingly moved perpetrators into unsuspecting communities all across the globe, acknowledge that merely moving someone to a new community does nothing to interrupt the abuse and only provides new opportunities for abuse in unsuspecting communities, and pledge that they will no longer merely relocate someone who has been accused of sexual misconduct.

No apology can ever fully heal the pain of sexual abuse. But the current cycle of halfhearted regret and ongoing inaction only serves to retraumatize survivors and perpetuate a system that lacks accountability for abusers. If the Church wants lasting change to come from last week’s historic summit, it has much further to go.

Re-imagining Restaurant Culture

The James Beard Foundation recently featured an article by Caitlin Corcoran, a restaurant owner in Missouri and a 2018 Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership fellow on building safety within the food and beverage industry.

#MeToo has helped foster a reckoning in Hollywood as well as other cultural institutions like the music and restaurant industries.

Corcoran describes how her experiences as a restaurant owner and a survivor with non-supportive and dismissive managers inspired her to re-imagine hospitality. Much of the issue was having tools for staff to address boundary-pushing behaviors. But the Corcoran also saw the potential in change restaurant culture more broadly. Restaurants have long been an offshoot of our local communities – a space where we gather socially and communally – and she saw an opportunity to improve restaurant culture more broadly.  

“I realized it was not enough just to intervene in a given moment at my establishment. I needed to go a step further and re-evaluate my business’s policies on safety for both staff and guests,” Corcoran said in the article.

She highlights how important it is to foster an organizational culture where respect and civility are promoted and harassment is swiftly and proportionally addressed. All too often, organizations focus too much on targets, harassers, and legal compliance. As outlined in RALIANCE’s open letter to CEOs and Boards, best practice is investing in staff so that all employees, regardless of position, are empowered to change their workplace culture.

Corcoran also worked directly with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) in Kansas City to create a training program to change the culture in restaurants. SAFE (Sexual Assault Free Environment) empowers participants to prioritize a culture where everyone feels safe.

Everyone plays a role in building safer workplaces and communities, and Corcoran’s work is an example of how companies and their leaders can partner with sexual violence prevention advocates to stamp out sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse one and for all.


RALIANCE commentary on R. Kelly criminal charges

Our partners at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center put out the following statement regarding the charges of criminal sexual abuse filed today against singer R. Kelly. This case, like so many that have come before it, is about both the individual actions of an abuser and the broader culture that enabled them to victimize dozens for years without consequence.

In particular, Black women and girls are disproportionately the victims of abuse, and they have suffered in invisibility for far too long. RALIANCE applauds the bravery of the Black women and girls whose activism has brought R. Kelly’s actions to light. We all must listen to and believe the accounts of everyone who shares their stories of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse.

NSVRC Statement on R. Kelly charges

Harrisburg, PA – It is vital that we hold those who commit sexual harassment, abuse, and assault accountable, regardless of their power, fame, or wealth. After the extensive documentation of abuses inflicted on Black girls and women by R. Kelly, NSVRC is pleased to learn that he is facing criminal charges for some of this conduct.

This case is a reminder that we must listen to and believe the accounts of Black women and girls, who experience sexual violence at higher rates than other groups of women but are often disbelieved and face systemic barriers rooted in oppression.

It is also important to be mindful of the language used when discussing the footage that in part led to these charges. The appropriate way to refer to this is video evidence of Kelly sexually assaulting a minor. Recognizing that legally, a minor cannot consent to any sexual activity, this footage is not a “sex tape,” nor a “having sex with a minor” but rather evidence of a crime.

2019 District Advocacy Toolkit & Webinar

As constituents and voters, all voices are important and powerful at all levels of government. Watch the recording of our March 5, 2019 webinar with Terri Poore, Policy Director at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence as well as RALIANCE about district advocacy. You can promote sexual violence prevention and support survivors! Use RALIANCE’s 2019 District Advocacy Toolkit and accompanying resources to prep for successful Congressional meetings.

Don’t forget to report about your district advocacy visits here!

Let’s not forget female athletes in the fight to end sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse

Happy National Girls & Women in Sports Day! As we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women and girls in athletics today, we must also remember the important role that sports leaders and organizations play in supporting female athletes and promoting cultures that practice respect, safety, equality on and off the field.

We know all too well that sexual violence and domestic violence prevention efforts are often focused on male athletes and that more can be done to implement programming, training and resources that are focused on female athletes and their unique needs and experiences. As part of our work to engage the sports community as a partner in prevention, the RALIANCE report, How Sport Can End Sexual Violence in One Generation Overview Report,” addresses these challenges and offers resources for how to prevent sexual and domestic violence in sports communities.

One example of an organization that is working to empower women and girls in sports is Seattle-based organization Athletes as Leaders. With help from funding from a RALIANCE grant, Athletes as Leaders developed, implemented, and evaluated a girls’ athletic leadership program as part of a comprehensive school-wide sexual assault prevention project. This program was piloted in a large urban high school and complemented the Coaching Boys into Men® program being offered to every boys’ team.

To learn more about how we are working with the sports community on ending sexual violence in one generation, please visit theSport + Prevention Center. Tweet at @RALIANCEOrg to share how you’re celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day and helping your community.

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