April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) is excited to partner with public officials, college campuses, law enforcement, victim advocates and communities across California to raise awareness. Over the past year, we have witnessed sexual assault receive national attention through the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp. Survivors who once suffered in silence for decades have found the courage to publicly speak out and have been greeted by a society no longer tolerant of rape and abuse. As we enter Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we have the opportunity to continue to create positive change.

In February, CALCASA released a new report The Costs and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California. The report was commissioned by CALCASA in an effort to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault upon California taxpayers. For some, the idea of discussing the economic impact of sexual harassment and violence appears unseemly. While sexual harassment and assault are very personal, in order to understand their impact, we need to look at them in the aggregate and in their environments. Families, friends, partners neighbors, and co-workers know first hand the time and resources necessary to recover from sexual violence. But never before has there been a comprehensive, quantitative analysis of how much this utterly preventable crime costs the state. In collectivizing rapes and other acts of sexual violence, we can see their broader impact.

At a minimum, the report reveals how ALL Californians have an investment in eliminating sexual violence. This year CALCASA’s focus for Sexual Assault Awareness Month brings out key components of our report in order to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault. We believe, and the research demonstrates, that building thriving communities and supporting healthy relationships can prevail over sexual violence and we can do this by investing in prevention.

We need to focus on prevention in response to the impacts of sexual violence in our communities. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, CALCASA developed resources to share the consequences of rape and sexual assault, enhance the visibility of our efforts to end sexual violence, and the need to move forward with prevention. Focusing on prevention can help strengthen and grow the support for survivors and our communities.

CALCASA is honored to support the 84 rape crisis center and rape prevention programs that serve all of California, provide survivors with a place to turn in their time of need, and take action to prevent sexual violence. The time for survivors is now, to support and elevate their voices, and the time for prevention is now.

What will you do for Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Join CALCASA’s effort with the Partnership for $50 Million to end sexual and domestic violence here.

If you are a victim/survivor of sexual violence, help is available. Victims can call the free and confidential National Sexual Assault Helpline 1-800-656-4673 or find their local agency at http://www.calcasa.org/agencies/

Women from the Ya Basta! Coalition, a statewide group of janitorial workers and advocates, march in support of legislation passed in 2016 that increases protections against sexual violence for California’s janitors.

We’ve heard the individual stories, tagged #MeToo and #TimesUp on social media.

But what about the collective cost of sexual assault?

Research we published last month shows that the annual cost of sexual violence in California is $140 billion.

Statewide, every prevented rape of an adult could save up to $163,800 and every prevented rape or sexual assault of a child could save up to $227,700.

In 2012 an estimated 948,000 California residents were sexually assaulted.

The report makes our charge clear: Rape is costly. Physically, emotionally and economically, the toll on victims is high. We need to invest in prevention in order to reduce personal and economic costs to the state.

For some, the idea of discussing the economic impact of sexual harassment and violence appears unseemly. While sexual harassment and assault are very personal, in order to understand their impact, we need to look at them in the aggregate and in their environments.

 

Read more from CALCASA’s CEO Sandra Henriquez in the California Health Report Op-Ed here

The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California was commissioned by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) in an effort to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault upon California taxpayers. Families, friends, partners, neighbors, and co-workers know first hand the time and resources necessary to recover from sexual violence. However, never before has there been a comprehensive quantitative analysis of both tangible and intangible costs to the state resulting from the utterly preventable crime of rape. The cost of sexual violence is high $140 billion. At a minimum, this report reveals how all Californians have an investment in eliminating sexual violence.

California anti-sexual assault advocates have for five decades responded to sexual violence survivors through counseling sessions, hospital forensic exams, reports made to law enforcement, and accompaniments to court proceedings. We recognize that through our prevention work – incalculable hours of education and training, public awareness campaigns, collaborative organizing and community mobilizing, policy change, media advocacy – we see culture change. Claims of sexual abuse against powerful individuals extend back into the 1970s and 1990s respectively. Survivors who once suffered in silence for decades have found courage in the new millennia to publically speak out and have been greeted by a society no longer tolerant of rape and abuse. The global ripple effect of disclosures, terminations, lawsuits, and investigations has impacted public government and private industries across the globe. We can credibly state that years of prevention work have shifted our culture from one of silence and shame to one intolerant of sexual violence and demanding accountability.

Our vision is BIG – a sexually respectful and healthy world free from sexual violence. The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California is a critical piece in accomplishing this vision. In order to accomplish this task, everyone must recognize their part in shaping a vision for the future: vision that disallows molestation as a first sexual experience, a vision where laborers support their families without fear of a sexually hostile work environment, and vision where we have the courage to remove those elements that normalize sexual assault in society from sexist comments to looking the other way. It is essential that everyone buy into the big picture because as this report evidences, not doing so is far more costly.  Further, by investing in California’s sexual violence intervention and prevention efforts, we invest in a healthy future for California.

 

The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) applauds the entertainment industry leadership for its contribution to the fight to end sexual violence with the Time’s Up initiative. The January 1, 2018 announcement of the Time’s Up initiative is a multifaceted approach that includes legal aid, information and education, and a pledge to work in solidarity towards women’s empowerment and the prevention of future harassment and sexual violence. We honor their commitment to justice and equity for survivors, and the movement to end sexual violence which countless help-networks across the globe have worked tirelessly to create for decades.

As the professional organization providing leadership for rape crisis center programs in California and advocating for systemic change in the state and throughout the nation, CALCASA has been a champion in the 50-year-old movement to fight sexual violence. CALCASA has worked to strengthen support efforts for survivors and provide resources for the programs and advocates that do the groundwork to fight violence every day in their communities. Since our inception, CALCASA has supported the legal rights of survivors, advocated for better anti-sexual assault legislation, and provided training and resources to the advocates that work to improve the quality of life of survivors and our communities. Unquestionably, our recent national vocal outcry and public outrage over workplace and street sexual harassment and assault was made possible because of this movement’s work to remove stigma, silence, and shame that blamed victims for sexual harassment and assault and allowed those who commit harm to escape accountability. With its contribution, the Time’s Up initiative is welcome to stand in solidarity with this work, contributing much need resources and media visibility to a destructive but preventable social ill.

CALCASA acknowledges that resources for survivors including legal funds are critical, and the Time’s Up $13 million commitment is a welcome contribution. However, we recognize prevention as the best investment in ending sexual violence and harassment. Prevention efforts work to change the conditions and culture that allow sexual harassment and violence to occur and become normalized within our culture. We call on leaders and champions of ending sexual harassment and sexual violence across all industries and sectors – from entertainment to agribusiness to legislatures – to expand their focus to include and prioritize prevention. Time is certainly up for sexual violence, and it is time to move forward with prevention.

 

 

In light of the recent attention and responses of sexual harassment from the press and key figures in Hollywood, we need to draw our attention and action to change the culture of the industry and our society that allows for any form of sexual violence to exist. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual violence in a larger framework of rape culture and we must shift our focus to the proponents that have reinforced these systems.

Environments in which any level of abuse of a sexual nature and objectification is routine, where the rights of others are minimized, excused or disregarded lead to the normalization of sexual violence. Bystanders have key roles in the persistence of sexual violence, they aid and abet these norms when they look the other way or play into the schemes and systems that perpetuate rape culture. Most importantly, however, is that bystanders can use their power and influence to stop and prevent sexual violence by standing up, speaking out, and making significant changes.

It isn’t the sole responsibility of one individual or one case of sexual harassment/violence to create these shifts, we need to focus on the culture that allows sexual violence to happen and commit to changing the conditions that allow rape to happen at all.

 

I am happy to share CALCASA’s support for the March for Black Women that is set for September 30, 2017 in Washington D.C. and declare that we stand in solidarity with the Black Women’s Blueprint, Inc., a key organizer in the movement.

The March for Black Women is embracing the strength of black women “in all their diversity” and centering their voices to condemn the violence and oppression black women face including high rates of incarceration, sexual violence, murder and the disappearances of black women and girls. I respect the March and the Organizers for demanding that the violence, including sexual assault experiences, that plagues the lives of black women and girls not be normalized or denied. The march is highlighting the importance of addressing gender justice in efforts to end sexual violence and all violence against black women.

In 2016 I had the honor of attending the 2016 Tribunal of the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault where I left hopeful on it’s potential to galvanize the group into action, and that day has come. This Saturday the mass mobilization will call for the following actions:

  1. Issue a Congressional resolution to apologize to all Black women for centuries of abuses, including sexual violence and reproductive violations against Black bodies, especially the brutalization of trans-identified women.
  2. Beyond the 2016 Gender Bias Policing Guidance, ensure immediate and sustainable measures by the U.S. Government to eliminate incarcerations, incidences of rape and “sexual misconduct”, police murder and violence against all Black women, and especially trans-identified women.
  3. End the threat against the human right to health-care and increase access, including all reproductive health care, bar none.
  4. Ensure economic justice for Black low-income women at the communal and federal level, many of whom are at increased risk for violence due to lack of economic power.
  5. Cease and desist all threats of deportation of immigrant women across the country, especially those whose deportation may cost them their lives or safety.

There is a layered and complex reality of violence and oppression that calls our movement to center the voices of women of color. It is critical that we center the needs of those survivors most marginalized, silenced and unseen. Strategies to prevent and end sexual violence must recognize the urgency in understanding the larger structures of systemic oppressions that shape our society, and CALCASA is adamant in identifying and working within this reality.

For more information on how to support and take part in the March for Black Women at mamablack.org

CALCASA Stands in Solidarity with the March for Black Women