SAPAT 2018 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Newsletter

SAPAT’s annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month Newsletter has just been released! Take a look!

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2018 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Newsletter

Coming out of the woodwork

It seems like every day that we turn on the TV, radio or read online news, there it is; another story of everyone’s favorite famous, successful man with allegations of sexual assault or harassment against them. With such a well-publicized movement like #MeToo, there is a danger or people becoming jaded or callused to the situation, either because they have heard so many stories that it becomes overwhelming or it does not fit their worldview of the way they like to think things work. People begin asking things like “Why did they just come out now with these allegations?” or “Why didn’t we ever hear about this before the election?” or “That was like twenty years ago; why didn’t they say something sooner if it was so important?” Some of this may be curiosity or ignorance, while some of it is obviously very thinly veiled victim blaming. Either way, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the complexity of reporting sexual harassment and violence.

Reporting a crime of sexual violence or filing a complaint about workplace sexual harassment is never as easy as it sounds. There are many, many complex reasons that make gathering oneself up to report these type of crimes so difficult. Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. does a very thorough job of explaining the complexities in this Psychology Today article.





Slap her?


If you have not seen this video from 2015, I highly recommend it. It features several Italian boys between 7 and 11 years old (Don’t worry, there are subtitles). There is a youthful innocence about these kids, and some of them are really funny!

The narrator asks the boys some routine questions: their names and ages; what they want to be when they grow up and why. Then, they introduce a pretty girl that looks to be a few years older than the boys. The boys’ response to this girl is really cute. They are asked what they like about her. Then, they are asked to caress her, which you can tell is somewhat awkward for both the boy and the girl. Then, they are asked to make a funny face at her. Then, they are asked to slap her… You have to watch the video to see what happens.


The video does a great job capturing the both the boys’ and girl’s reactions. The request to “slap her” is met with shock, confusion, and sadness. The fact that none of the boys could bring themselves to slap her begs a few questions…

Will they act the same way when they are older, when the camera is off? Would they have this same reaction to other people, someone who isn’t a pretty girl? I certainly hope they do. However, I have to wonder, amid the firestorm of allegations of sexual harassment and assault recently in Hollywood, media, government and other businesses; Did those men have the same instincts as these little boys when they were this age? If so, what made them change from that to what we see now? What messages were they given that made them think their horrendous behavior was okay? This is exactly why prevention is so important; it reinforces the instincts that these boys appear to have that says it’s wrong to hurt people, pretty girl or anyone else. We need to speak out and challenge behaviors and social norms that say otherwise.

House and Senate Are ‘Among the Worst’ for Harassment, Representative Says

Sexual harassment stems from the same social norms that can lead to sexual assault. Valuing or claiming power over others, acceptability of violence, and narrow definitions of manhood and womanhood can create environments where sexual harassment is the norm.  Sexual harassment is never acceptable, especially coming from our leaders. How do we prevent sexual assault when our nation’s leaders are complicit in these norms themselves? It’s time for change.

“The Congress of the United States should be the one work environment where people are treated with respect, where there isn’t a hostile work environment,” said Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, who will testify on Tuesday about her efforts to deal with harassment in the Capitol. “And frankly, it’s just the opposite. It’s probably among the worst.”

In more than 50 interviews, lawyers, lobbyists and former aides told The New York Times that sexual harassment has long been an occupational hazard for those operating in Washington politics, and victims on Capitol Hill are forced to go through far more burdensome avenues to seek redress than their counterparts in the private sector…

Sexual Assault Prevention Action Team of Kent County

See something, say something

“See something, say something” is an ingenious campaign of the Department of Homeland Security which can be applied to so many different issues in our world, including sexual harassment and assault. When we see something that does not seem right, we should speak up. As a country, we are collectively horrified everytime allegations come out concerning celebrities accused of sexual harassment or assault. Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky, Bill Clinton…just to name a few. While these people have been accused (and some convicted) of horrible acts, there are many more people that bear responsibility in letting these very events happen and continue to happen. They are called enablers. Those people, for various reasons, who cover up, turn their head or don’t speak up when they see inappropriate things happening. It’s time that we learn to speak up and speak out against all forms of sexual violence. If you see something, say something…

Sexual Assault Prevention Action Team of Kent County

Of Power, Predators And Innocent Mistakes: The Complex Problems Of Sexual Harassment

With so many women coming forward about their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace, its important employers take note of the challenges and opportunities they have to improve their approach to prevention. How does your workplace define sexual harassment? Do employees have the opportunity to learn about sexual harassment in the workplace and are they aware of procedures for preventing and responding to sexual harassment? These are questions SAPAT can help to answer. Together we can start a dialogue that leads to creating cultures of respect, safety, and accountability.

“Prest would rather have a “better safe than sorry” office environment. “I think we’re so far away from understanding what consent means,” she says.

It has to do with understanding power dynamics at work, where most of us have bosses.

“You want your boss to like you, so you feel like you have to say yes to everything,” she says. “They ask you to go out for drinks after work — you say yes automatically because you want to have this person’s favor.”

Young concedes that “there are very real power differentials in the workplace.” But she’s “concerned about this mindset that we have to constantly police for microaggressions — which, a lot of that is defined very subjectively.””

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Sexual Assault Prevention Action Team of Kent County

Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays.

This holiday season, take the opportunity to educate your friends and loved ones on the importance of consent. Teaching young people about their right to make their own decisions regarding their body can help to keep them safe from exploitation and coercion throughout life.

“Holidays and family get-togethers are a time for yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love. But they could, without you even realizing it, also be a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.

Have you ever insisted, “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,” when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.

Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.”

Sexual Assault Prevention Action Team of Kent County

Changing the Culture on College Campuses.

Society often fails to provide our young people with positive messages on sexuality. Providing young people with education on respectful sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships helps them to make positive decisions throughout life. Standford University is taking a proactive step to preventing sexual violence on their campus through their Beyond Sex Ed curriculum for current and incoming students.

” “The idea of the program is to change the culture around sexuality, emphasizing the importance of mutual respect and listening to oneself and others,” Al-Shamma said. “There’s a peer-to-peer connection, and student voices are uplifted. Cultural change needs to happen on the level of students themselves.” “


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