We spoke with Jack Ohmes, Statewide Training Specialist for Safe Bar and Safe Tracks at the Sexual Assault Center (SAC). The organization, which works to provide healing to individuals and communities affected by sexual assault through a variety of specialized services, received a RALIANCE grant in 2023 to help advance their bystander intervention training.
RALIANCE: Tell us a little about what your organization does and who you serve.
Ohmes: SAC’s mission is to provide healing for children, adults, and families affected by sexual assault and to end sexual violence through counseling, education, and advocacy. The Sexual Assault Center provides trauma-informed therapy services rooted in the most current research on trauma. We know that trauma impacts the whole person, and we use therapy approaches that provide healing for the whole person. Our therapy services include crisis intervention, individual therapy, and group therapy. Advocate services are available in English and Spanish to clients of the Sexual Assault Center and non-offending guardians of clients of the Sexual Assault Center as well as survivors of sexual assault in the middle Tennessee region who are not currently receiving counseling services at the center.
In addition to the Safe Tracks and Safe Bar prevention programs, Sexual Assault Center provides training and support for professionals working with survivors of sexual assault, including dual domestic/sexual violence programs, clinicians and counselors, law enforcement, college and university staff, and other community partners. Utilizing data and trends from the field’s most up to date research, our trainings are developed to address the specific needs of a group or agency. These trainings are also free of charge.
RALIANCE: What are some of the unique challenges of sexual harassment and exploitation in the music industry?
Ohmes: Of course, sexual harassment and exploitation can happen in any industry and in many types of settings. In every instance, this type of harassment is about one person maintaining power and control over another. The music and entertainment industries have a handful of specific and unique dynamics that unfortunately can be misused to facilitate sexual violence. Two examples of these dynamics include the unique relationships in the industry and the constantly shifting power dynamics. In the music industry, “work hours” can vary greatly, sometimes lining up with long travel days and long nights of performing and entertaining. This is not a normal 9 to 5 job with duties assigned by a supervisor or boss. We are working with people’s life work, dreams, and passions. Unfortunately, people take advantage of others in these settings.
Victims of sexual harassment in the music industry are often in a tough position when faced with an inappropriate request or comment and may feel that rebuffing or speaking out could jeopardize their career and their dreams. Secondly, the power dynamics of people in the music industry shift from room to room. Imagine a meeting between a record label and an up-and-coming independent artist. Within this dynamic, the record label holds more power and has more sway than the artist does. After this meeting, the artist goes to a songwriting session with a young songwriter in college. While the artist had less power in their last meeting with the record label, they now hold more power in this room with the college student since they are further along in their career. It’s important that people be aware of the power they hold in each room they walk into, and how that could potentially shift as they go into their next session.
With Safe Tracks training, we can build awareness of these issues to create communities where people are free to create music and follow their dreams in safety. Despite these dynamics, the potential for bystander intervention in the music industry is huge. Most music and entertainment industry meetings and events will include 3+ people, which gives space for one person to act as an active bystander. Safe Tracks teaches participants how to be an active bystander in their unique settings.
RALIANCE: How can people who are closely involved in the music/entertainment industry be more aware and help deter sexual harassment exploitation?
Ohmes: Prevention work starts with education, and Safe Tracks is a primary prevention bystander intervention training program. This means that we work to get ahead of the problem and stop sexual violence before it ever happens. We teach practical tools like the 5 D’s of Bystander Intervention (Direct, Distract, Delay, Delegate, Document) that anyone can use in their setting to interrupt sexual harassment.
Safe Tracks is also an opportunity to take part in challenging and crucial conversations. For example, we brainstorm ways that attendees can use their own identities or positions of power to positively display allyship to those who are marginalized or disproportionately affected by these issues. The goal of Safe Tracks is to create a community that is passionate about creating the cultural change that will stop sexual violence in the music industry.
RALIANCE: How can readers stay informed?
Ohmes: Readers can stay informed by following us on social media @nashvillesac, signing up for our newsletter here: https://sacenter.dm.networkforgood.com/forms/newsletter-sign-up, and keeping up with our website: https://sacenter.org.
We also encourage anyone that is interested to attend our free trainings, and other SAC events, like the training team’s conference this month: www.sac-conference.org. We also always invite anyone that has specific questions or needs to reach out to us – our main line is: 615-259-9055, and the 24/7 Crisis & Support Hotline is: 1-866-811-7473.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.
The RALIANCE Grant Program has supported more than 75 sexual violence prevention projects with a total of $3.2 million in grant funding from the National Football League (NFL). The majority of the grant projects funded to date were awarded to programs serving people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, religious minorities, immigrants, young people, and others who often are heavily impacted by sexual violence yet historically overlooked by funders. Learn more at www.raliance.org/grant-program/grants.