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RALIANCE releases Parent 2 Parent Toolkit

We spend so much time as parents trying to protect kids from outside harm that we sometimes forget the importance of teaching kids the skills they need for healthy sexual development and behavior. No parent or caregiver wants to believe their child is capable of causing harm. Children and youth with sexual behavior problems need compassion and services; and parents and caregivers need help to reduce the silence, stigma, and isolation families can experience.

Leading the way on this important conversation was NEARI Press & Training Center – which unfortunately closed their doors on October 1. As a RALIANCE impact grantee, NEARI undertook an important project to create and archive resources that empower families to support each other as well as their children with sexual behavior problems. Beyond the silence, fear, and stigma are children who need adults with knowledge to act and support healthy sexuality and behaviors.

These important resources have become a part of the RALIANCE series of toolkits. We are proud to offer these resources and further the conversation about this important aspect of preventing harm.

If you are a parent or caregiver concerned about your child’s behaviors, you aren’t alone. RALIANCE’s Parent 2 Parent Toolkit can help. Explore the toolkit at: https://www.raliance.org/parent-2-parent/

Lessons learned from NBC’s approach to allegations against Matt Lauer

Photo by David Shankbone. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

It’s been almost two years since MeToo became a household phrase globally, and we’ve begun to talk quietly about redemption for high-profile figures whose harmful behavior was spotlighted. Aziz Ansari came back this year with his own Netflix comedy special. Louie CK was back on stage less than a year after his MeToo moment. And news reporter Matt Lauer was predicting his own return to TV. That is, until information from an advanced copy of journalist Ronan Farrow’s much-anticipated book Catch and Kill detailed allegations of Lauer raping a former NBC News employee in his hotel room while covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Lauer moved quickly to the defense, releasing a letter to Variety emphatically saying the allegation is “categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense” while discrediting the survivor by describing a mutual and consensual extramarital affair. Despite the survivor confirming she was too drunk to consent, despite the power differential that meant Lauer could make or break her career in news.

Far too often we hear sexual assault framed as a “he said/she said” scenario – a move that seeks to blur facts and discredit or shame survivors. In fact, those who perpetrate sexual assault use alcohol in three strategic ways: to lower the inhibitions of the other person, to decrease their own inhibitions about carrying out sexual assault, and to ensure the other person won’t be believed. Lauer is banking on society’s ease with blaming victims for their own abuse – and turning the tables to frame himself as the victim worthy of our protection and sympathy. If we are ever to live beyond MeToo, then accountability cannot mean paying lip-service.        

Accountability isn’t only on the individual whose behavior is at best inappropriate or at worst criminal. Institutions, corporations, and communities must face the music and accept how our culture silences survivors and ignores them to the point of condoning these behaviors.  Farrow documents in the book a pervasive culture of complicity at NBC, and articles have come out detailing Lauer’s misconduct and behavior were well known. And central to NBC’s response was a settlement tied to a non-disclosure agreement, tying the survivor’s hands from speaking.

The lesson for companies and organizations? It’s time to step up and create workplaces that are safer, healthier, and more equitable for all employees. This starts by implementing workplace policies that emphasize transparency, clear and confidential reporting processes, and appropriate responses for addressing incidents of sexual assault, misconduct, and abuse. Employees deserve better and our corporate leaders must be part of the solution to end sexual violence once and for all.

#MeTooMedicine – How the medical field needs to change

A recent Washington Post Health Perspective article by a female medical resident brought to light how pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct is in the medical field. The author described inappropriate groping by patients, and the article uplifted the fact that faculty and staff members are the perpetrators of almost half of the sexual violence experienced by female medical students. The unspoken rule is not to report – that these experiences are just part of the job. We know that when harassment and misconduct come from a superior, there are even fewer options for recourse or safety. The MeToo movement has shown that no industry is immune to the dialogue or mirror being held up to what has been long ignored and silenced – and that includes the medical field. 

“It’s ironic, she said, that as a gynecologist she is trained to believe patients’ claims about sexual assault. In the workplace, though, it’s well known that raising such matters can backfire. She added: ‘Physicians should be setting a standard on this.’” –  Christina Jewett,  “Women in medicine shout #MeToo about sexual harassment at work”

It’s important to note the level of trust everyone – survivors and non-survivors – put in their medical providers. That’s why it’s vital the medical industry stop harm before it happens by addressing problematic behaviors in medical settings for survivors and staff members alike and working towards a culture where this isn’t the norm. ­­

From the courageous female athletes who read their victim impact statements, to Larry Nassar’s conviction, to an unprecedented $500 million settlement at Michigan State University, it’s clear that change is possible. However, the medical field is often a hierarchical space where men dominate in positions of power and authority. We must create safe spaces where female medical students and doctors feel comfortable coming forward with complaints of inappropriate behavior. Reporting, transparency, and accountability are all key to making in-roads. Advocates can also apply pressure on medical boards to address sexual assault by doctors and medical staff.

Every step counts when it comes to ending sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse in one generation. We must work toward a world where female residents do not have to write a column in the newspaper to be heard.

AHLA's 5-Star Promise: A continued commitement to put safety first.

Industry Spotlight: Hotel Industry Safety Initiative Leads the Way on Sexual Violence Prevention

Ending sexual violence in one generation requires a significant commitment to changing cultures in workplaces and within industries. We’re encouraged by our partners at the American Hotel and Lodging Association on the one-year anniversary of the 5-Star Promise, the hotel industry’s commitment to advance safety and security for hotel employees and guests.

“The American Hotel & Lodging Association is an example of how all industries can and must step up to champion healthy, safe, and inclusive workplace cultures for their employees. We commend the AHLA for proactively addressing important safety and security issues impacting their workforce. RALIANCE is proud to partner with AHLA and the hotel industry on setting the tone for real leadership on this critical issue. Together, we can end sexual violence in one generation.”

– Monika Johnson Hostler, RALIANCE Managing Partner

So what is AHLA doing? They’re providing industry-wide training and materials on safety and security. AHLA’s resources include education for employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment and highlight the importance of multilingual mandatory anti-sexual harassment policies. They’re also working with employee safety device companies to help U.S. hotel employees feel safe on the job.

In addition to RALIANCE, AHLA is working with a wide range of national organizations including the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA), and Polaris.

AHLA and its 5-Star Promise serve as positive examples for how other industries can offer concrete and effective solutions to help end sexual violence.

[link to press release]

I’m With Them – and We’re With You.

Many companies assume they handle sexual misconduct reports by their employees effectively and have the appropriate mechanisms in place. However, I’m With Them, a nonprofit working to reduce sexual misconduct in the workplace, found that it was a lot harder to find information on where an employee could anonymously report sexual misconduct, fraud, or other ethical violations.

Although there are federal laws designed to protect employees and mandate a way to report ethics violations, systems vary greatly from organization to organization. Navigating these laws and policies can be harder for non-employees such as contractors, vendors, and suppliers.

That’s why I’m With Them’s new resource – Misconduct Reporting Directory – is a helpful and easy-to-use guide for how employees can anonymously report sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse. I’m With Them took it one step further by listing the code of conduct for over 150 U.S. organizations, a U.S. anonymous hotline phone number, an anonymous reporting website, a reporting email address, names and contact information for heads of HR and Diversity & Inclusion, and other helpful information. There is also guidance to walk you through which reporting channel is best.

As an employee: Check to see if your organization is listed. If not, encourage your company to become a part of the directory.

As a board member or part of the leadership team: Review whether your organization is listed. If not, consider sharing resources such as these with employees.  

We will improve the safety of our workplaces and communities when leaders invest in transparent reporting processes and do their part to end sexual violence in one generation.

Woman standing on the sidewalk looking at her phone

RALIANCE supports policies that empower survivors to make choices for themselves

Yesterday, rideshare company Uber introduced several new features to help keep passengers safe. These changes are part of RALIANCE’s work with Uber to help the company better respond to sexual harassment and assault. “Uber recognizes that they have influence with other companies, and they’re trying to use that influence not only to make things better on their platform but because they’re serving people all over the globe,” RALIANCE Chief Public Affairs Officer Kristen Houser told WIRED. These safety features include ways to confirm a driver’s identity and the ability for passengers to text 911 from inside the app. In addition, Uber’s policy on reporting sexual assaults during rides allows the survivor to decide whether they want to report to law enforcement.

Uber’s stance on allowing survivors to decide whether or not to report to law enforcement is survivor-centered and informed by conversations with anti-sexual violence organizations such as RALIANCE and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV). In fact, NAESV has a longstanding policy of not supporting any policies or initiatives that require mandated law enforcement reporting in adult sexual assault cases.

Time and time again, we have seen how mandatory reporting to law enforcement is not effective for survivors. It is far better for victims of sexual assault to give their express consent to be included in law enforcement investigations. Survivors have overwhelmingly expressed concern with the pitfalls of mandatory reporting. In a 2015 survey conducted by NAESV and Know Your IX, a majority of survivors said they should retain the choice about whether and to whom to report.

Through our work with Uber and other corporate partners, RALIANCE has trained staff on how to help victims and survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse. Forcing traumatized survivors into a criminal process not only discourages participation, but it also signals to sexual assault survivors that their autonomy and consent in decision-making is not important. Companies must implement policies and workplace cultures that support survivors.

The issue of confidentiality is also key. “The cornerstone of rape crisis advocacy is empowering survivors to regain control by making their own decisions following sexual assault,” said NAESV in a statement applauding campus sexual assault legislation that supported survivor choice when reporting. “If a survivor chooses not to report the assault, this choice must be honored and her or his anonymity protected.”

Centering survivors means centering their choice and consent, and we applaud Uber for their purposeful policy that empowers survivors to make choices for themselves.

One year later: Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

A year ago, RALIANCE Advocacy Director Ebony Tucker issued a statement on the testimony of Dr. Ford. “This past week has been very painful for survivors,” the statement noted. “Every time we question, ridicule and demean a survivor that comes forward, we hurt those who are living with the trauma of sexual abuse anddiscourage even more people from coming forward.

“There are those who think that reporting years or even decades after a sexual assault is too late or that a delayed report is unfair because it ruins an offender’s life. When we value the lives of victims, often women, as much as we value the lives of men, this will no longer be a serious consideration.”

One year, later we again issued a statement. We are alarmed to learn from this weekend’s New York Times piece that the Senate and FBI failed to fully investigate allegations made against Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh. RALIANCE is committed, now more than ever, in doubling down on the fight to hold offenders, institutions, and people in positions of power accountable.

The real cost of workplace sexual harassment to businesses

It’s time to get down to brass tacks. The real cost of workplace sexual harassment to businesses is devastating to the bottom line. Higher turnover, absenteeism, and lowered productivity are just the beginning of the results of a recent study, “Me Too: Does Workplace Sexual Harassment Hurt Firm Value?”, which looked at trends at thousands of companies.

It’s time to address sexual harassment in the workplace head on. Here are some insights from this study for CEOs and other business leaders to consider: Workplace sexual harassment is a serious and widespread issue – one that impacts the bottom line. Researchers found that sexual harassment in the workplace costs thousands of dollars per employee.

Not only does sexual harassment hurt a company’s bottom line, but it also negatively impacts employee well-being. Employees deserve to feel safe and confident that leadership will address instances of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse swiftly.

Sexual harassment affects bystanders. Too often researchers found atmospheres of fear and intimidation, even retaliation. Leaders must create workspaces where all employees feel empowered, supported, and believed.

Sexual harassment is morally reprehensible. How a company chooses to foster a safe and healthy workplace environment is an important part of demonstrating the company’s values.

All employees deserve to feel safe and respected at work. That’s why RALIANCE is partnering with many companies and organizations to address sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse. For more tips, please check out RALIANCE’s Open Letter to CEOs and Boards of Directors.

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