November 20th is National Transgender Day of Remembrance.  This is a time for communities to remember and uplift the memory of people who have lost their lives due to anti-transgender violence. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience violence and discrimination at alarmingly high rates and there are no signs to suggest that the violence is decreasing. In fact, the number of murders of transgender people that occurred in 2020 surpassed the numbers for 2019 in just seven months.  This troubling milestone reminds us that our work to end violence in all its forms, against all people, is far from over.

Attributing all transgender deaths solely to hate crimes robs victims and survivors of the complexity of their stories. Trans people also experience sexual and intimate partner violence at incredibly high rates and this violence occurs not only due to transphobia, but also to a lack of structural support and systemic marginalization. Failure to address these nuanced root causes of violence allows the harm to continue and paints this gruesome statistic as a single-issue problem. FORGE, a leading national transgender anti-violence organization, describes how sexual and intimate partner violence typically shows up for trans folks.

A major violence prevention strategy is creating protective environments, which is of huge importance when we talk about trans inclusivity in prevention programs. Many transgender and gender-nonconforming (GNC) youth are consistently marginalized through educational institutions, particularly via bathroom segregation and severe bullying – GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey found 83.7% of trans and 69.9% of GNC students experience bullying on campus. In order for our programs to prevent sexual violence, we need to show up for and center those who are most often pushed to the margins.

In honor of the lives and experiences of trans, non-binary and GNC people, FORGE created a 30-day Action Guide, not only to remember those who have experienced violence but to protect and prevent violence against the living. See some suggestions below of ways that you can show up starting TODAY.

 

  • Know Local Trans Rights
    • Policies and laws can vary from region to region. Do some research in your specific area to find out what protections are available for trans people and what legislation needs to change.
  • Use Social Media to Educate and Support
    • An organization’s social media is a helpful mechanism by which to provide some community education. Consider posting some information about the importance of pronoun usage or gender inclusive bathrooms. Not only does this offer an opportunity to educate your cis-gender followers, it also signals to trans people in your community that their lives and rights matter to your organization.
  • Free a Bathroom from the Binary
    • Many organizations still do not have gender neutral restrooms. Ensure all spaces, including places outside the organization where you might hold meetings or gatherings, have at least one restroom that is safe for all people to use. FORGE also created this helpful bathroom guide for shelters.
  • Introduce Yourself with Your Pronouns
    • You know this one, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Even if you’re not instructed to introduce yourself with your pronouns or in a group a people where pronoun usage isn’t normalized, try to remember to do it anyway if it’s safe to do so. Here’s a short video we like that can be used to explain pronouns to young people who aren’t used to it yet.
  • Use Non-Gendered Language
    • This is huge for folks working in prevention – we use gendered language all the time without even realizing it. Addressing a mixed gendered group as “you guys” for example, is vernacular that can actually be really triggering and/or alienating for trans and GNC folks. Here’s a helpful guide on how gendered communication shows up and how to avoid it.
  • Make Life Better for Incarcerated Trans Folks
    • Trans, particularly trans people of color, are criminalized and incarcerated at much higher rates than cis people. Consider organizing youth groups and leadership teams in collecting books to donate to LGBTQ prisoners or sign up to be a pen pal through Black and Pink.

 

The suggestions above are only six of the 30 action items that FORGE suggested for November. There is always so much more work to do to strive for inclusivity and intersectionality in our collective mission to end sexual violence.

 

Read the full list here and get started today.

In August 2020, PreventConnect hosted a web conference titled Taking Prevention Online: Tips and Best Practices for Facilitating Engaging Online Events. This web conference was a timely resource for Preventionists nationwide who are still grappling with the challenges of adapting prevention programs in a virtual landscape. This web conference was hosted twice and facilitated by CALCASA’s PreventConnect team, Tori Vandelinde and Ashleigh Klein-Jimenez. PreventConnect published a blog underscoring key takeaways from the event, but the abridged highlights are below:

  • Context is changing, but prevention is adaptable.
  • There is no one way, one platform to deliver prevention messages and programming online.
  • Key ingredients of online engagement including accommodating needs during COVID-19.

A resource list including numerous tools to support online programming accompanied the web conference and the recording can be watched HERE. For a deep dive into the reflections listed above, read the full blog HERE.

 

In October 2020, CALCASA’s RPE and SD teams hosted and facilitated yet another web serieson Tools and Best Practices for Disclosures: Supporting Youth in Online Prevention Programs. This web series, along with an accompanying toolkit, was developed in response to a stated need from prevention programs in California who had questions about responding to disclosures from youth in a virtual landscape. Preventionists were wondering how digital spaces impacted mandated reporting requirements and how to ensure that programs remained trauma-sensitive during the pandemic and civil rights uprising. Below are some reflections on the key points from this three-part web series.

  • Mandated reporting requirements still apply in digital spaces. Agencies should consider updating their Mandated Reporting policies to address situations that commonly occur online.
  • Youth, especially those who are marginalized, are struggling with isolation. Sometimes fostering connection is more important than delivering content.
  • Relationship building in prevention programs suffer from the lack of in-person connection. Adapting prevention programs during this time is more complex than simply adapting one’s curriculum to be delivered on Zoom.

To read comprehensive strategies about adapting prevention programs to an online format and the legal landscape of mandated reporting, view the toolkit included below. To watch the recordings of all three sessions of Tools and Best Practices for Disclosures, click HERE.

Download the toolkit here –> FINAL-HANDOUT-PACKET_Tools-Best-Practices-for-Disclosures.pdf (10 downloads)

During the Pandemic, reports of domestic violence inside the home have been increasing. While shelter-in-place restrictions are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, unfortunately, the heightened stress and isolation can put families at risk for experiencing and causing violence inside the home. Adopting restorative practices, like healthy communication, can be a helpful tool for intervention or to diffuse a situation before tension escalates.

In mid-2020, Project NIA released The Building Accountable Communities (BAC) Toolkit which included Jennifer Viet’s “Talking Circles at Home and Parenting Restoratively” guide.  Mariame Kaba, Founder and Director of Project NIA, came across Viet’s guide in April 2020 and asked Viet if she could use a revised version in the BAC Toolkit. Jennifer Viet, a Chicago-based Restorative Practices Coach, came to Restorative Justice (RJ) and circle keeping as a mother and incorporates her own lived experience as a parent and RJ facilitator into this guide.

This guide is intended to provide practical tools and resources for families to address conflict restoratively, rather than punitively, that are able to be incorporated into everyday life. Components of the toolkit include resources such as holding a family circle (including how to have a family circle about the current uprising), sharing feelings, speaking with someone who has caused/experienced harm, a restorative conversation checklist and additional tools for empathetic listening.

Resources like this guide prevent sexual violence and abuse by eliminating some of the conditions that allow abuse to occur at home in the first place. Additionally, according to the CDC, “Parental use of reasoning to resolve family conflict” is considered one of the main protective factors that may lessen the likelihood of using or experiencing sexualized violence in childhood. Familial empathy building normalizes caring about others and restorative, rather than aggressive, communication is an important skill to build in childhood that also can prevent violence from occurring later in life.

This guide could not be a timelier resource considering that so many families are currently still sheltered in place while kids are returning to school at a distance. The economic impacts have also devastated families and continue to produce negative mental health outcomes. Encouraging communities to use talking circles and restorative parenting at home may be able to mitigate and manage some of the tension.

As in-person socialization continues its hiatus from everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that youth and adults alike have turned to online communication more than ever. As the preliminary data rolls in, Forbes Magazine reports that internet usage has increased by approximately 70%. Additional reports indicate that abnormal searches on websites like Amazon have thrown advertising algorithms for a loop as they try to adjust to the spike in demand of less commonly searched items such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper. What hasn’t changed, however, is the harassing, discriminatory and sexually violent behaviors that occur in digital spaces. Not only has the protection of a screen not been a barrier for these issues, the veil of anonymity has seemed to act as an incentive.

Recently, an article was written entitled When social media is sexist: a call to action against online gender-based violence. This blog post, first appearing on End Tech Abuse Across Generations’ (eTAG) website is written by Nabamallika Dehingia and explores the disproportionate amount of abuse hurled online at marginalized genders, particularly cis women and other femme identifying individuals. In reference to one study conducted by Amnesty International, the author writes “women who experience online abuse often adapt their online behavior, self-censor the content they post and limit interactions on the platform out of fear of violence and abuse. By silencing or pushing women out of online spaces, online violence can affect the economic outcomes of those who depend on these platforms for their livelihoods. It can also lead to loss of employment and societal status, in cases where online violence impacts their reputation (for e.g. in cases involving revenge porn or non-consensual pornography).” Additionally, the article points out that threats of violence and rape online could be a precursor to the occurrence of in-person violence.

Fortunately, as is true with in-person harassment, online abuse is preventable. Many of the same tactics used to interrupt violence in-person can be utilized in the digital sphere. Primary prevention strategies, such as bystander intervention, can be used online to disrupt the earliest stages of violence while tertiary prevention tactics like community care after an abusive situation can foster online environments that feel safe and protective. Risk reduction strategies can also be employed, and individuals can take steps to protect their space and well-being online.  Even addressing harmful attitudes and misconceptions about sexual violence online may lead to digital communities that are less often plagued by violence. Additionally, eTAG, a national resource on tech abuse, offers a plethora of helpful resources for addressing common issues online such as nonconsensual pornography  (revenge porn), cyber safety planning, and supporting youth survivors.

It is all too easy to perceive online spaces of being somehow removed from real life – that violence online is nominal insofar as it is not physical. We would be remiss not to acknowledge, however, that violence is violence no matter the venue and our work as preventionists does not begin and end in the classroom or community workshops. In tragedy lies opportunity and in bearing witness to violence lives the responsibility to get it right next time and in this moment now, more than ever, we must set the tone for our communities online and how we care for each other when in-person connection is not an option.

Contextualizing mask making and prevention work:

As COVID-19 continues to drastically impact the world around us, conversations ramp up about community care and mutual aid. There has been concern that prevention work will be deprioritized as the need for what is commonly thought of as direct services increases. At this time, it is important to remember that creating protective environments and addressing the social determinants of health are essential components of sexual violence prevention work. There is significant opportunity in this moment to strengthen connection with the community and utilize prevention as a tool to foster positive health outcomes and just in time for SAAM. Nationally, community members have stepped up to the plate as individuals participate in fervent mask making at home and distributing the fruits of their labor to essential businesses and vulnerable populations.  Preventionists might consider using this strategy as a way to engage youth and community groups in mutual aid work that doubles as a low-tech SAAM activity.

 

Reasons to facilitate teal mask making this SAAM:

  • Engaging young people in non-screen related activities is important for overall health
  • Providing both youth and adults with a feeling of purpose can lessen anxiety during this time
  • Essential businesses and vulnerable individuals need help! Think of supporting your local Planned Parenthood, farmworkers, grocery store clerks and low-income or older adults in the community. This small action has the potential to bring awareness to sexual violence, foster unlikely allies and partnerships, and add an element of increased safety to the lives of others.
  • Preventing sexual violence doesn’t always mean preventing sexual violence. Often, it means preventing the conditions that are conducive to sexual violence such as financial stress, heightened anxiety, community connectedness, etc.
  • Post on social media to inspire others to join. If all prevention programs across CA participated, the impact could be huge.

 

The Basics of Mask Making: Materials, costs, how-to, sterilization and distribution

Materials Needed:

  • Teal fabric
  • Strips of knit fabric or elastic
  • Sewing needles
  • Thread
  • Plastic Gloves (optional)
  • Safety pins (optional)

Material Acquisition and Costs:

*NOTE: While all of the following supplies could be procured from Amazon, wait times for shipping are extensive. Additionally, consider contacting local quilting or fabric stores in the region for supplies.

Organizations should review their supplies budgets for each program and check in with their funders to determine if funding can be allocated toward mask materials and/or if budgets need to be adjusted to accommodate the project. Other options include using unrestricted funds, asking a board member or other community member for donations, or locating a local quilting group to ask for fabric donations.

TOTAL ESTIMATED COST PER MASK: $2.00-$3.50

 

How to Make a Mask:

Check out this video tutorial on YouTube with details on making well-constructed masks. Sewing machine or some sewing skill required.

Check out this video from Joann Fabrics about how to make a very simple cloth mask with minimal sewing (safety pin option is included) with a cloth band for areas that are sold out of elastic.

Check out this article with pictures and an accompanying video from the CDC about how to make masks with no sewing.

 

Sterilization:

 It is advisable (but not necessary) for people making masks to wear gloves and safety masks. It is essential to wash hands thoroughly, be symptom free, and disinfect the work environment. Please review the follow articles and CDC guidelines for mask making:

 

Suggestions for Distribution:

 Preventionists can assist with distribution by assembling “mask kits” or dropping off supplies on participant’s doorsteps. Another option is to choose a location to leave materials and have participants come retrieve them individually from the safe location. Snail mail is a third option.

Agencies can also help facilitate mask making by scheduling “how-to” workshops via zoom or putting together their own video or instructional sheets to share with parents/caregivers and other community members.

The Intersections of Sexual Violence Prevention and Mutual Aid: Making Teal Masks for Sexual Assault Awareness Month