A year after #MeToo, taking the pulse of sexual violence prevention

What a difference a year makes,” or so goes the old adage.

It’s been one full year since the New York Times broke the story about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment abuses. One year later, The Cut published “Our Year of Reckoning: An Exhaustive Timeline,” detailing the day-to-day developments over the past 365 days related to how the world has sought long-overdue accountability for decades of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse. The Silence Breakers made room for so many more to come forward and continue driving social change. We’re finally seeing a true public reckoning with the societal attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that must change for sexual violence to be eradicated once and for all.

Another old adage: “What gets measured, gets done.” That’s why over the last three years, since our founding, RALIANCE has been tracking and benchmarking what’s been unfolding related to our shared mission to end sexual violence in one generation. Last year’s report foreshadowed just how powerful social media and other forms of activism could be, helping survivors of sexual violence find their agency and their voice. When we released that report in late September 2017, we had no idea how powerful the collective voice would be for the thousands who said #MeToo in the following days and weeks.

As RALIANCE is poised to release our 2018 report, we continue our focus on several key themes:

Accountability: For the first time, many who used their positions of power to cause harm faced actual repercussions. This also forced many of us to think beyond criminal justice solutions and engage corporations and institutions to lean into their values to examine accountability as part of healthy workplace cultures.

Prevention is possible: #MeToo has brought basic principles of prevention into living rooms and lunch rooms, into our homes, workplaces, and streets. We can build a culture that promotes equity, consent, and safety for all.

Leaders are needed: To end sexual violence, we need more people to come forward in their own communities to show courage. We must continue to be bold in 2018 and beyond. And we must continue to invest resources and commit to change to build safer, healthier environments.

Be on the lookout for our annual report, “Ending Sexual Violence in One Generation: A Progress Report for the United States 2018,” publishing soon!

Non-Disclosure Agreements After #MeToo

A discussion on the ways that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) can support the needs and choices of survivors.

By Terri Poore, Policy Director at National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

During last month’s National Sexual Assault Conference, I joined Maya Raghu of the National Women’s Law Center in presenting a RALIANCE workshop about state and federal legislative responses to the #MeToo movement. One important issue that we discussed was non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Terri Poore and Maya Raghu

Outlawing non-disclosure agreements was one of the first policy ideas to pop up in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein. In some ways, it seems like an obvious solution—NDAs can keep employers from detecting serial offenders and can keep survivors silent about their experiences. No one wants that!

At the same time, a cornerstone of our work as survivor advocates is helping survivors seek healing and justice on their own terms. After all, healing and justice look different for each person. For example, some survivors may want an NDA to shield themselves from career impacts or receive financial support for therapy and recovery.

As is often true when we’re trying to address and prevent sexual assault, the solution would have to be more complex than simply making NDAs illegal. At our workshop, we talked about some general guidelines for state and federal policy makers seeking to regulate the use of NDAs. Here are some ways that NDAs can support the needs and choices of survivors:

1.  Restore power to survivors by prohibiting employers from requiring employees to sign:

–  NDAs as a condition of employment, compensation, benefits or change in employment status or contractual relationship;

– NDAs as a prerequisite to reporting and/or investigating workplace harassment or discrimination; and

– NDAs that are a mandatory condition of settlement.

2. Require documentation and/or a finding when a survivor signs an NDA that they are doing so voluntarily with meaningful access to legal advice, not under pressure or coercion.

3. Require employers to ensure confidentiality throughout the reporting and investigation process rather than compel employees to sign an NDA as a prerequisite to reporting and/or investigating.

4. Require that NDAs signed during separation or settlement agreements shall not restrict the individual who made the claim from:

–  Lodging a complaint of sexual harassment committed by any person with any local, state or federal agency;

–  Testifying or participating in any manner with an investigation related to a claim of sexual harassment conducted by any local, state or federal agency;

–  Complying with a valid request for discovery or testimony related to litigation alleging sexual harassment;

–  Exercising any right the individual may have pursuant to state or federal labor relations laws to engage in activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or mutual aid and protection;

–  Waiving any rights or claims that may arise after the date the settlement agreement is executed.

5. Address the enforceable scope of NDAs with unambiguous language regarding the consequences for employers who attempt to enact provisions of NDAs that are inconsistent with federal or state law and/or regulations.

6. Address a broader context for protection from unfair NDAs by using “workplace harassment and discrimination, which includes sexual harassment,” instead of “sexual harassment.”

Leaning into the kinds of environments all students deserve

In the wake of the Department of Education’s latest weakening of Title IX protections, campus administrators across the country are re-examining their role in creating safer environments for all students. The federal civil rights law protects students and staff alike from discrimination based on sex at schools receiving federal funding –and this includes acting upon reports of sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault.

While federal mandates may no longer require as robust a response, now is not the time to back down from what young people, parents, advocates, and community members demand for a student’s education experience.

RALIANCE was proud to award an impact grant to the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) in 2016-2017 to improve perpetration prevention strategies for colleges. PAAR assembled a team comprised of victim services, school administrators, and sex offender treatment professionals to examine sanctioning practices at three Allegheny County, Pennsylvania universities. The goal was to better train and offer accountability options for universities to address changing behaviors and understanding possible risk.

PAAR’s Alison Hall & Julie Evans as well as RALIANCE’s Julie Patrick recently discussed this project in a guest prevention blog for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers called “Redefining campus sanctions for sexual misconduct as a strategy for prevention.”

As the conversation about Title IX continues to evolve, schools need examples of ways to lean into the kinds of environments and cultures all students deserve. Check it out and let us know your thoughts!

Prevention Strategies and College Football

A group of economists recently published an analysis that suggests the rise in sexual assault during big college football games is likely due to the increased partying and alcohol consumption that accompany them.

To be clear, alcohol does not cause sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, it can, however, be used to excuse aggressive behavior and place blame on the victim. These results call on the need for prevention strategies that address behaviors that occur during big college football games.


Recap: #Bold Moves at the 2018 National Sexual Assault Conference

As MeToo Founder Tarana Burke said, “We come to the work because we are the work.” These are the inspiring and true words of Tarana Burke, who was the keynote speaker at this year’s National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC).

RALIANCE had the opportunity to attend the conference last week in Anaheim, California. We not only connected with sexual violence prevention advocates across the country, but also sponsored a series of workshops to explore how we can better work toward our shared goal of ending sexual violence in one generation.

Here is a rundown of some of the key themes and takeaways from NSAC 2018:

Be Bold

NSAC’s theme, #BoldMoves, was inspired by RALIANCE’s bold vision of “Ending sexual violence in one generation.” Nearly 2,000 allies, advocates, survivors and friends gathered at this year’s conference to inspire and share best practices in our work to change the culture and improve sexual violence prevention and intervention.

This is the generation that will end sexual violence

Keynote speakers Menominee activist KayTeshia Wescott; Dalton Dagondon Diggs from the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence; and Melody Klingenfuss, a California Dream Network statewide youth organizer working with the Coalition for Humane and Immigrant Rights discussed the importance of mentoring and engaging youth in this work. Check out the livestream!

Communicating about sexual violence prevention matters

RALIANCE debuted a new messaging guide at NSAC with strategies on how to be more effective communicating about prevention. We know prevention is possible and happening. Now, the world needs to better understand the role they can play to end sexual violence in one generation. Explore the guide!

Ms. Magazine Blog: Bold Moves to End Sexual Violence: Three Tips for Talking About Prevention

More from #NSAC2018! RALIANCE’s second Ms. Magazine Blog: Bold moves to end sexual violence: Three tips for talking about prevention.

Efforts to prevent and stop sexual violence are underway in communities across the country—and while it’s not always clear that our small actions can result in big cultural changes, prevention is possible, and it’s happeningTalking about the progress we have made is also challenging—and that’s why RALIANCE teamed up with the Berkeley Media Studies Group to release a new report to guide individuals on how to talk about prevention

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