Tips for "preventing" sexual violence have historically focused on the behaviors of women. Women have been warned of the dangers of overalls, ponytails, cell phones, alleyways, and nighttime. They have been told to stay indoors, never drink alcohol, avoid short skirts, and to never stay home alone. They have been given advice that ranges from the practical, "basic-common-sense" variety, such as lock your doors at night, and buy a blow-up doll to take on long trips.
Certainly these messages are offered in the spirit of helping women, but they fail in two key areas:
- They focus on "preventing" assaults by strangers when, in fact, four out of five assaults are committed by someone the person knows.
- individuals are not raped, battered, or stalked because of anything they do, but because of something the perpetrator chooses to do.
Clearly, prevention messages must be focused on potential perpetrators, not on potential victims.
The Advocates Program calls for the eradication of all forms of sexual violence by challenging the cultural values that perpetuate it and holding accountable the individuals that perpetrate it. Our messages focus on working with men to challenge their peers and to be role models for others. We work to raise awareness about the devaluation of women through language, media, and policy. And, we work to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable both by the legal systems and by their peers.
The Advocates Program's prevention messages target the culture that supports violence and condones sexual terrorism, not the victims of the violence.
For more information, call 229-5122.