Last week’s Department of Defense’s 2018 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military reported more than 37% increase of “some kind of contact or penetrative sexual assault” of service members as compared to 2016 based on data from an anonymous survey of military service members. In a memo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan commented on the need for action in light of these findings: “To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or each other.”
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A new study released today by UC San Diego’s Center for Gender Equity and Health (GEH) and the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment (SSH) shows that sexual harassment and assault are widespread problems in the United States. CALCASA is a partner in this report, Measuring #MeToo: A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault, along with Promundo and RALIANCE.
Released in the wake of the groundbreaking societal reckoning with sexual harassment and assault prompted by the #MeToo movement, the study’s major findings include:
- While verbal comments are the most frequently experienced form of sexual harassment, an alarming number of people also have faced more severe forms. Among all female respondents, 49% had been purposely sexually touched (or groped), 27% had been followed, and 30% had been flashed. On the most extreme end, 23% of women (1 in 4) had survived sexual assault, as had 9% of men (1 in 10).
- Women with disabilities and women who identify as lesbian or bisexual were more likely to report experiencing both sexual harassment and assault than women without disabilities and straight women, respectively. Among men, those in certain marginalized groups were also more likely to report experiencing sexual harassment and, especially, sexual assault; this includes men with disabilities, men living below the poverty line, and gay and bisexual men.
- Young people and marginalized groups have also experienced sexual harassment more recently. Of those who experienced sexual harassment or assault, 18% of women and 16% of men experienced it most recently within the past six months. At least one-third of young women aged 18-24 (32%), Black women (35%) and lesbian or bisexual women (39%) reported sexual harassment in the past six months, the highest prevalence across demographics.
“This report demonstrates that sexual harassment is prevalent and ubiquitous in the U.S., no matter who you are or where you live, and at the same time we also see increased risk among some of the most marginalized groups,” said Dr. Anita Raj, Director of the UCSD Center for Gender Equity and Health.
NORC at the University of Chicago conducted the nationally representative survey of 1,182 women and 1,037 men across February – March 2019. This is the second consecutive year the organizations have partnered on a comprehensive survey of behaviors and attitudes regarding sexual harassment and assault.
Sexual harassment takes place across a range of locations, the study found, but the most frequently listed one was a public space (68% of women and 23% of men). For sexual assault, both women and men listed someone else’s residence (10% women, 3% men) and their own residence (7% women, 2% men) as the most common locations.
“Our study demonstrates that the problem begins well before most people reach the workplace, with public spaces and private residences being prime locations for experiences of sexual harassment and assault,” said Holly Kearl, founder of Stop Street Harassment. “We must address the problem there, too.”
“Prevention efforts, including education in schools as early as possible around issues of consent and harassment are crucial,” said David S. Lee, Director of Prevention, CALCASA. “We know that prevention works, and it’s necessary to shift to a culture where individuals look out for one another.”
Among those reporting sexual harassment and assault, 30% of women and 18% of men said it caused them to feel anxiety or depression, while 23% of women and 12% of men said that they changed their route or routine as a result of the experience.
When we asked respondents whether they believed the high-profile allegations against prominent men regarding sexual assault or harassment, more people believed it happened in most or all cases (43% of women, 40% of men) than believed that harassment or assault did not happen in most cases (8% of women, 11% of men). The rest believed it varied case to case.
“By and large, when people say they experienced sexual harassment or assault, they are telling the truth,” said Karen Baker, RALIANCE Managing Partner. “Our workplace and community policies and programs should reflect these realities. If we want to end sexual violence in one generation, all companies and organizations must ensure that employees and members of the community know that incidents of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse will be swiftly and appropriately addressed.
Only 2% of men and 1% of women said that they had ever been personally accused of committing sexual harassment or assault, but at the same time, around one-third of respondents told us that they had committed one or more of the forms of harassment and assault included in the study.
“This shows why any mention of so-called false allegations is so off base,” said Brian Heilman, Senior Research Officer at Promundo. “The evidence is clear that sexual harassment is real and it’s all around us, but sadly there are too few accusations of any type, since many survivors don’t feel safe in bringing these experiences to light. All of us need to demonstrate much better support to those who have experienced harassment and assault, to believe them if they choose to speak up, and to help them receive some measure of justice on their terms.”
The full report, a two-page executive summary and the survey questions are available here. Later in the year, a report with detailed information about sexual harassment and assault in California will be released.
CALCASA’s national project PreventConnect is hosting a web conference Changing the Culture of Schools, Churches, and Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Lessons Learned from the Just Beginnings Collaborative, on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 11am PT,
The Just Beginnings Collaborative is a network of national leaders to end child sexual abuse, and this web conference is the first of three web conferences highlighting the impactful work of the Just Beginnings Collaborative network. Join us as we discuss how shifting culture within the heart of organizations and communities can lead to great impacts on preventing child sexual abuse. From churches and schools to community organizations and families, every facet of a community has a role to play in preventing and ending child sexual abuse. Learn from our guests how to engage parents, center prevention in organizational commitments, and identify areas for change within churches and youth-serving organizations.
Guest speakers include
At the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in San Diego on Monday, I presented at a great panel session titled “Preventing sexual violence in sport.” Along with three colleagues, we shared the opportunities for sport to be part of the solution in ending sexual violence. Each of us shared examples of comprehensive prevention efforts that involve engaging athlete, coaches and administrators in advancing sexual violence prevention within sport and how sport can take leadership in prevention efforts for the broader society.
I started the session describing the work of RALIANCE in its Sport + Prevention Center.and the report How sport can end sexual violence in one generation. In the presentation I share how our research showed that sport can promote accountability, social cohesion and self control, all of which are protective factors for sexual violence prevention. Jeffrey J. Milroy, DrPH, MPH, of the University of North Carolina Greensboro followed with his presentation on “Translating evidence into sexual violence prevention for collegiate student-athletes.”
Jennifer Yore, MPH, of Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH), University of California, San Diego, describe the researcher think tank hosted by the GEH and RALIANCE “Sport as an incubator and accelerator for sexual violence prevention. “ which resulting the RALIANCE report Recommendations for Next Steps In Research and Evaluation. The final presentation by Katie Hanna, MEd, U.S. Center for SafeSport, “Putting Athlete Well-being First: How the U.S. Center for SafeSport is working to champion respect and prevent abuse in sports.” Described sexual violence prevention efforts in the 50 National Governing Boards of the US Olympic movement.
This panel presentation was important to demonstrate how public health concepts of prevention can support making changes in sport in order to prevent sexual violence.
This blog is written by Jessie Towne-Cardenas of the Arboreta Group who works with CALCASA in providing training and technical assistance for the Rape Prevention and Education program (RPE).
As part of our work advancing sexual violence prevention nationwide, CALCASA is currently supporting California RPE programs in doing organizational self-assessments to create a Primary Prevention Integration Action Plan (PPIAP). in 2012, rape crisis centers went through a similar process and many made big changes including:
- increasing prevention messages on their websites and using social media;
- training all staff, volunteers, and even board members on primary prevention;
- increasing funding for prevention through fundraising, grants, and fee for service; and
- including prevention in strategic planning goals and mission statements.
What we measure we can improve. Assessment shines a light on how our organizations integrate prevention and reveals areas for improvement and/or development. The beauty of self-assessment is that it doesn’t matter if your baseline is low because it’s just a starting point. Here are a few things we’re looking forward to learning:
How organizations talk about prevention in their community – From volunteers to board members those affiliated with the organization know what primary prevention of sexual violence is and how their prevention services move them toward their mission.
How organizations fund prevention work – Diverse funding sources for prevention helps strengthen and sustain our work over time. Using data and stories from our prevention work tells the story of RCCs that are providing vital support to survivors AND working to end sexual violence through education and social change.
How organizations support and develop their prevention practitioners – Assessing organizational performance in the areas of leadership development, supporting new ideas and methods, compensation structures, and transition and succession planning are vital because well-trained and well-supported staff are essential to the success of an organization.
The PPIAP Organizational Self-Assessment is available for any rape crisis center to use to shine the light on their prevention programs. Do you want to put some focus on prevention? Let us know!
CALCASA is proud to join RALIANCE’s #GiveABuck campaign to end sexual violence in one generation. Go to Give a Buck and join this movement today!
Sexual violence has dominated headlines for years – sexual harassment and assault on campuses, in churches, in Hollywood, in newsrooms, in the military… it happens everywhere. It’s time to act now – all of us working together to end sexual violence in one generation. We have the opportunity now to build broad support for programs that prevent sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault in our communities. #TimesUp and #MeToo have made wonderful advances for victims’ services. Our #GiveABuck social media campaign builds awareness and supports prevention.
Are you ready to tell the world you Give A Buck about ending sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault?
Go to our Give A Buck site and sign up to be a participant, take the pledge, or to learn more today!