RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Sexual Assault Outreach Efforts

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Sexual Assault Outreach Efforts: Best Practices and Specific Interventions

      Below is an excerpt from conference proceedings that discuss several interventions in sexual assault prevention and risk reduction.  Although most of these refer to men and women primarily in college campus situations,  the effective components are easily adaptable  for age-appropriate use in middle school and high-school boys and girls.  Of especially notable components, strong conclusions suggest that single-gender programs are more effective than mixed gender (which certainly holds true for middle school group),  the greater time of exposure (length  of program, repeat of information over time), and programs facilitated by professionals hold the greatest promise.

                                                                         Tanya Singleton, RCASA Intern



AUCCCD Conference October 27, 2009 Brenda Lovstuen, Ph.D., Cornell College blovstuen@cornellcollege.edu

I. Best Practices Alan Berkowitz wrote a chapter for the book “Sexual Assault in Context: Teaching College Men About Gender” by Christopher Kilmartin (2001). The chapter, “Critical Elements of Sexual-Assault Prevention and Risk-Reduction Programs for Men and Women”, includes components for prevention and risk reduction programs in general and specific components for men and women:

A. Effective components of rape-prevention programs for men (pp. 84-85, 90-93)

1. emphasize that men do have responsibility for preventing sexual assault

2. understand range of coercive behaviors men are socialized to use

3. challenge myths and assumptions re: male sexuality & sexual activity

4. address men’s erroneous fear of false accusation

5. reduce men’s enabling and bystander behaviors

6. increase male empathy toward victims and understanding of the impact of rape

7. acknowledge male victimization 8. explore opportunities for men to take social action to raise other men’s awareness

B. Effective components of risk-reduction programs for women (pp. 85-86, 93-96)

1. educate women re: characteristics and styles of different perpetrator types 2. reduce women’s enabling and bystander behaviors that encourage women to take unsafe risks &/or overlook female friends’ risk-taking

3. reduce victim-blaming and increase understanding and support for victimized women

4. encourage women to access support services specific to different types of assault

5. discuss effectiveness of different responses to coercive behaviors

6. understand and overcome cultural norms and socialization that reduce self-efficacy and lead women to overlook cues about danger

7. discuss different emotional reactions of women to assault

8. understand risk behaviors that might increase vulnerability to assault and emphasize protective behaviors that might decrease vulnerability

9. learn self-defense techniques and skills

10. explore opportunities for social action to educate about and prevent sexual assault -may not be possible to incorporate all elements into one program, some effective programs may be based on only a few elements, but covering all or most at least briefly is recommended

-Berkowitz was also an author of a more recent article reviewing research lit about rape prevention and risk reduction: Lonsway, K. A., et al. (2009, January). Rape prevention and risk reduction: Review of the research literature for practitioners [On-line]. Available: www.vawnet.org

-conclusion: “research documents the most positive changes in programs designed for women only and characterized as risk-reducing rather than empathy-focused” (p. 14)

 -programs that are longer and facilitated by professionals also appeared to have more impact

-repeated exposure to programming increases impact, multi-component plans showing promise

 -strongest conclusion: single-gender programs are more effective than mixed-gender programs; possible exception of programs that address males and females as potential bystanders

-strategies likely to not work or not be recommended: fear-based, implicitly insulting, lectures

II. Examples on Our Campuses A. Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa

1. Background: ~1140 students, ~95% residential, 1.5 FTE counseling staff

2. Challenges

3. RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Basic Self-Defense Class for Women

a. About RAD –viable options of self-defense for women; free return & practice; awareness, prevention, risk reduction; http://www.rad-systems.com/

b. RAD at Cornell –campus/community partnership

c. Content of RAD –lecture, physical self-defense techniques, simulation

d. Research on RAD

-Brecklin, L. R. (2007). Evaluation outcomes of self-defense training for women: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior,13, (2008), pp. 60-76. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com Brecklin reviewed research on the effects of self-defense training of females, including some of the research below.

-Cox, D.S. (1999). An analysis of two forms of self-defense training and their impact on women’s sense of personal safety and self-efficacy. [On-line]. Abstract from: ProQuest File: Dissertation Abstracts Accession Number: 1999-95018-091 (also cited in Brecklin, 2007) – RAD raised self-efficacy of college-aged women around personal safety issues; increased participatory behaviors

-Michener, S. O. (1997). An analysis of rape aggression defense as a method of self-empowerment for women. [On-line]. Abstract from: ProQuest File: Dissertation Abstracts Accession Number: 1997-95009-182 (also cited in Brecklin 2007) – RAD participants had significantly increased interpersonal self-efficacy and self-defense self-efficacy and perceived they’d feel less helpless if faced w/ an attack; at immediate posttest participants were also more likely to engage in assertive behavior; although not statistically significant, at one month follow up participants reported feeling stronger, more active, and more physically competent than prior to taking the self-defense course

-Michener, T. D. (1997). An analysis of the effectiveness of Rape Aggression Defense presented with and without simulated assaults. Walden University: Doctoral Dissertation. Cited in Brecklin, 2007. – RAD grads showed significant increases in interpersonal and self-defense self-efficacy, assertion probability, & ability to defend self; researcher concludes they are less likely to be victims of sexual assault; participants w/ simulated assaults had moderately higher self-defense self-efficacy than those who did not (Brecklin [2007] hypothesis: more intensive training where women learn to knock out padded male attackers may prepare women better for fighting off real assailants p. 72)

-Brody, R. D. (2008). The effect of the R.A.D. self-defense program on adolescent girls’ self-esteem and self-concept. [On-line]. Abstract from: ProQuest File: Dissertation Abstracts Accession Number: 2008-99020-361 – RAD grads ages 13-17 showed significant increases in self-reports of self-esteem and self-concept, positive changes in behavioral adjustment, physical appearance and attributes, freedom from anxiety, popularity, and happiness and satisfaction

-Brecklin, L.R. (2007, November). A qualitative analysis of women’s experiences in Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training. Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Atlanta, GA. -Majority of RAD participants reported positive changes such as being more aware of surroundings, increased confidence, feeling empowered and stronger about ability to defend self, and feeling safer and less afraid; participants also reported being more cautious and engaging in crime prevention strategies (e.g., walk w/ head held high, check around car before entering) –some of these may be seen as avoidance behaviors & thus not benefits.

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