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NATIONAL DISCUSSION ON SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT

SECNAV Latest
Abstracts

 Abstracts

PRESENTATIONS

Innovative Approaches

Facilitator: TBD 

Location: Midshipman Activity Center Dahlgren Hall

 

 

Proposing a New Paradigm for Consent and Communication: Lessons from Alternative Communities

Hannah Tarleton and James Adaryukov, Florida Atlantic University

 

Through a theoretical examination of Alternative Communities practices, we will propose Alternative Communities as a model to research regarding sexual assault prevention because of its rejection of traditional sexual scripts guided by gendered norms and practices that encourage open communication between partners. Practices within Alternative Communities, such as negotiations, safe words, limits, and aftercare, encourage healthy communication between partners, decreasing the risks of miscommunication and misunderstanding leading to unwanted sexual activities and ensuring that boundaries are delineated and maintained in a way that accommodates the needs of everyone involved. Through these systems, Alternative Communities practitioners are able to shirk gendered norms that act as the foundation for the traditional sexual scripts that contribute to many sexual assaults, opting instead to explore novel sexual scripts based in self-identified roles rather than societal expectations. However, the literature surrounding these practices is limited due to taboos and misunderstandings about Alternative Communities as well as challenges conducting research with the community. We will discuss approaches that have been employed to learn from and about Alternative Communities, address the challenges with studying the community, and propose how to use what we have learned from the Alternative Communities community to inform sexual assault and harassment prevention measures.

 

 

Beyond Asking Questions: Mapping Tools Lead to Environmental Prevention Strategies Tammy Meredith, Ph.D., Applied Research Services, Inc.

 

Sexual violence is a widespread problem overwhelmingly under-reported to authorities. While considerable strides have been made to prevent and respond effectively, national figures indicate that sexual assault, harassment, and other forms of sexual violence, including on college campuses, remain disturbingly high. For greater impact, prevention efforts must go beyond individual education and training to changes in the environment. Engaging in environmental change requires methods that expand beyond asking questions in surveys and focus groups. A current Department of Justice-sponsored initiative is focused on reducing sexual violence perpetration opportunities through environmental interventions at three pilot universities. These strategies address the experiences of women of color at Duke University, LGBTQ+ students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the role of campus party spaces in queuing sexual violence at Williams College. The project is translating theory and research drawn from environmental management for harm prevention, criminology, and alcohol and other drug intervention and applying lessons learned from those fields to efforts to reduce and ultimately prevent campus sexual violence. Inspired by evidence-based middle school interventions, the three campuses participating in this initiative used mapping as one strategy in a multi-faceted assessment. The mapping tools literally make visible students' identified experiences of sexual violence, microaggressions and identity marginalization in campus spaces. The results of these exercises have surfaced structural and systemic prevention opportunities for changes to the built environment, policy, and training. A resulting toolkit will be framed largely for stakeholders with roles and responsibilities at institutions of higher education.

 

A System-Wide Approach for Understanding Preconditions of High Risk Behavior

LCDR Pete Walker, Ph.D., Office of Naval Research

 

Destructive behaviors, including sexual assault, continue to harm our Sailors and impact mission effectiveness. Despite years of collecting vast amounts of outcome data on individual incidents, there is still very little understanding about what the root-causes of these destructive behaviors are, making the application of effective mitigation strategies onerous. Rather than address the underlying behavioral causes, programs and policies have been layered upon one another - applying a Band-Aid to a much larger problem. In the worst cases we may have missed the behaviors and environments that enable destructive behaviors we have targeted. The primary aim of this presentation will be to discuss the efforts within the 21st Century Sailor Office (OPNAV N17) to develop robust programs focused on the reduction of at-risk behaviors in the fleet. Here, we will discuss how we have adopted, implemented, and continue to validate the use of a robust Human Factors program that Leverages Data Analytics (LDA), understanding the spectrum of the Behavior Learning Continuum (BLC), and eliminating redundant or superfluous Programs, Policies, Practices, and Procedures (P^4).

 

Culture/Climate Leadership

Facilitator: Dr. Michelle Padgett, USAF

Location: Bo Coppedge (Alumni Hall)

 

Courage to Change

Alison Kiss Dougherty, MA, Widener University

 

This paper provides an overview of a qualitative case study that explores the organizational change and leadership needed to develop and implement a campus sexual assault response team (SART) program at a state university. The collaborative, coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to sexual assault. The university's approach to sexual assault response and compliance with federal law has the potential to inform development of coordinated community approaches in response to federal law and student safety needs at other universities. The development of such a coordinated approach system has the potential to result in increased reports because such an approach provides support for victims to come forward comfortably to report sexual assaults. A coordinated approach provides an opportunity to educate students, before something happens, about options and services. This paper contributes to the practice of leadership in sexual assault response, and identify challenges in institutionalizing a proactive policy for response to sexual assault, and will serve as a potential model for other college and university campuses in the development of their own proactive policies and procedures in creating a safer environment that facilitates student learning. Ultimately this study will empower colleges and universities to examine and improve their systems and responses so that college is a positive and enriching experience for all students. Finally, the findings may contribute to the growing knowledge base of campus sexual assault. It may also contribute to organizational change models and their implementation as it results to change in higher education law enforcement and student affairs. This session will focus on identifying barriers to collaboration through the author's research on institutional change and the development of a SART.

 

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response at two Catholic Universities

Ange Concepcion, M.S.Ed., Fordham University

 

Since April 2011, sexual assault on college campuses has become one of the most pressing issues that college leaders face in their efforts to maintain a safe campus community. A multiple case study approach explored how mid to senior level campus leaders achieve Title IX compliance for the purpose of sexual assault prevention and response at two private, Catholic 4-year universities located in the northeastern United States. The study's framework utilized institutional isomorphism and sensemaking theories. Data collection, conducted during summer and fall 2018, included interviews, document analysis, and field observations. The study featured participants' reflections and understanding of Title IX and its guidance documents, particularly Dear Colleague Letters from April 2011 and September 2017, and how university mission and values inform prevention and response. A constant comparative method of data analysis was used (Merriam, 1998). This method features three levels of coding: open, to group similar concepts to create categories; axial, to determine conceptual linkages among open code categories; and selective, to discover a core category that unifies previous categories (Corbin &

Strauss, 1990). Key findings: importance of senior-level leaders, particularly at the Dean or Vice President levels, in convening regular and as-needed policy reviews by committee; financial constraints on training and staffing; use of online and in-person training sessions for incoming students on sexual assault prevention; and prevention and response conceptualized as a collaborative effort among campus leaders and external partners, such as local law enforcement and local domestic and sexual violence crisis centers.

 

Fixing what's broken: Mentoring as a strategy for helping targets of sexual harassment overcome avoidance and organizational traps

Suzanne de Janasz Ph.D., George Mason University and Lynn Bowes-Sperry Ph.D. Western

New England University

 

Despite increasing scrutiny of sexual harassment (SH) in the workplace, due to high profile cases (e.g., Weinstein, Lauer) and the relatively nascent #MeToo movement, there has been relatively little progress in eradicating it. The EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Workplace Harassment concluded that 25-85% of women have experienced some form of SH. More harrowing still is evidence that 75 percent of SH incidents go unreported, due to shame, fear of retaliation, and a belief that nothing will change. Organizations have responded to SH with compliance-based strategies such as training, policies, and procedures that aim to help targets but which have shown little success, serving more to protect harassers and their organizations from financial and reputational harm. We are developing an instrument to study how external mentors can help SH targets more confidently resist, report, or eliminate workplace SH. At present, research on SH has overlooked the important role mentors play, despite hundreds of studies demonstrating how a mentor's instrumental and psychosocial support provide significant benefits to a protégé's careers and well-being. Our innovative approach is informed by research on mentoring which demonstrates the value of confiding in someone who has "been there, done that" as a means to find empathy and legitimate pathways forward. In addition, SH targets would likely feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with external mentors, who do not work in the same organization, have no allegiance to protecting the company's image, and who can freely advocate for the target.

 

Gender Specific Considerations

Facilitator: Ms. Kimberly Lahm USAF

Location: Museum Conference Room (Preble Hall)

 

Shifting the Paradigm: Changing How We Engage with Men

Barbara Cyr-Roman and Judith E. Rosenstein, Ph.D., United States Naval Academy

 

When talking with men about masculinity, we often introduce the "man box". This has been a useful tool for demonstrating how hegemonic masculinity can constrain men's behavior, facilitate sexual violence, and contribute to a hostile environment. Although we employed the "man box" and other traditional approaches to discussing masculinity for many years, the message we received from our male audience was that it was not resonating, and worse, it was alienating them. After reviewing the research and in consultation with our male stakeholders and subject matter experts we revised our session content. Our conversation now includes a male survivor story and confronts male rape myths. In the process, men explore the background of these myths, their experiences with them, and the implications for survivors. While we do not know if this revised session promotes introspection or behavioral change, we have seen a change in the tenor and tone of our audience response from hostility to appreciation, from blaming to gratitude.

 

 

Addressing Threat Perceptions to Reduce Sexual Assault Risks toward Women

Corey L. Cook, Ph.D., Pacific Lutheran University

 

With increased awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence, it is important to understand the threats heterosexual men pose toward women. As a socially dominant group, however, research on stigmatization and stereotyping often ignores perceptions of heterosexual men. Data were collected from an online sample of 226 heterosexual U.S. women (aged 19-77) who reported threat perceptions attributed to heterosexual men of varying traits (e.g., feminine, masculine).

Measures included the extent to which men were perceived to pose sexual approach threats, and the influence of perceived threats on social distancing (a measure of behavioral prejudice) and negative emotions (e.g., anxiety). The results suggest that heterosexual men are widely perceived to pose sexual approach threats, and that undesired advances increase social distancing from men. I propose ways to integrate knowledge of the threats men are perceived to pose into interventions aimed at reducing sexual violence, including ways to empower bystanders with skills to understand felt threats and to absolve situations. In sum, this talk proposes ways to use threat-stigmas to improve sexual assault reduction strategies, which will ultimately reduce the prevalence of felt threat and associated stigma.

 

The Case for Reparative and Transformative Justice Approaches to Sexual Violence in Canada: A proposal to pilot and test new approaches 

Sophia Boutilier, Stony Brook University and Lana Wells, MSW, University of Calgary

 

Victimization surveys in North America suggest that one in three women and one in six men will experience some kind of sexual violence in their lifetimes. These statistics are known as "dark numbers": the actual numbers of victimizations that lurk behind the small number of incidents reported to the criminal justice system. For example, for every 1000 sexual assaults in Canada, only 33 are reported, and only 3 result in convictions of the perpetrator. Even when convictions happen, prison is often a place of more violence, failing to meet the needs of the victim or rehabilitate the offender. To chart a way forward, we synthesize the knowledge on restorative, reparative, and transformative justice processes. Although the data is piecemeal, it shows that victims not only prefer alternatives to the criminal justice system but also feel more empowered and experience a reduction in symptoms like PTSD when they use them. Offenders engaged in these processes show higher rates of confession and lower rates of recidivism, and facilitated community circles help to identify and challenge rape myths that contribute to sexual violence. To harness these promising findings, we identify guiding principles and next steps for an integrated approach to sexual violence. We call for a community-based justice process outside of the criminal justice system, that is trauma-informed (for both victims and offenders), engages community, and addresses the needs of victims for information, restitution, and recovery. We conclude with next steps to innovate responses to sexual violence.

 

 

Prevention

Facilitator: Mr. Cyrus Salazar, USAF

Location: Severn Room (Bancroft Hall)

 

Using the Social-Ecological Model to Change the Statistics

Ashley Blamey DSW & Laura Bryant MSSW, Sarah Thomas, MA, Christina Moradian J.D.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

 

Higher education institutions are required to provide sexual violence prevention and educational programs to students. At the University of Tennessee, sexual violence prevention is planned and facilitated through a strategic coordinated community approach. This approach invites students, faculty, and staff to engage in transformative learning experiences to prevent sexual violence. The University of Tennessee's comprehensive approach is led by the Office of Title IX in partnership with a diverse representation of campus students, faculty, and staff who serve on prevention teams and student advisory boards, and as peer health educators. Our approach to sexual violence prevention is grounded in the Center for Disease Control & Prevention's SocialEcological Model. Our prevention education creatively engages the community about the University of Tennessee's values and social norms around sex, consent, alcohol and drug use, bystander intervention, healthy masculinity, and healthy relationships. We strategically schedule an array of educational opportunities throughout the calendar year. In addition, as a part of the comprehensive approach, the general student body and high risk populations such as Athletes and Greeks have annual population-specific prevention plans to meet the unique needs and challenges of their respective communities. This session will provide an overview of the way in which the University of Tennessee has developed, implemented, and assessed a comprehensive community approach along with innovative methods and modalities to engage and transform a campus culture that are strategically applied across the Social-Ecological model to decrease risk and increase protective factors around sexual violence.

 

Preventing Sexual Assault and Harassment in U.S. Service Academies and Civilian Colleges through Life Skills Training

Gil Botvin Ph.D., and Kenneth W. Griffin, PhD, MPH 

Weill Medical College, Cornell University

 

Sexual assault and harassment is an important public health problem among college-age youth at the US Service Academies and civilian colleges across the United States. The purpose of the presentation is to review two federally funded randomized trials testing adaptations of an evidence based primary prevention approach called Life Skills Training (LST) with incoming college-age youth. The adapted LST program focuses on teaching knowledge, attitudes, and skills designed to enhance personal resilience, develop healthy and rewarding personal relationships, and prevent sexual assault and harassment. Study 1 was conducted with incoming cadets at the US Air Force Academy who were randomly assigned by squadron to either (a) receive the group administered prevention program or (b) serve as a control group. Data were collected using self-report surveys assessing knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors. Data analysis used a series of GLM ANCOVAs to determine the impact of the prevention program on inappropriate sexual behavior (operationalized as Sexual Acts Without Consent) and several potential mediating variables. With respect to the primary outcome, results indicated that the prevention program cut Sexual Acts Without Consent by nearly half (4.4% versus 7.4%). These findings are important because this is one of the first rigorous studies at a US Service Academy to demonstrate reductions in inappropriate sexual behavior. Study 2 is testing an online adaptation of LST with students at over 30 colleges across the country. The potential of the LST approach for enhancing healthy personal relationships and preventing sexual assault and harassment will be discussed.

 

 

Building the capacity of DoD to conduct effective sexual assault prevention using the Getting to Outcomes approach 

Joie Acosta, Ph.D., Matthew Chinman, Ph.D., RAND

 

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) is leading an initiative to improve the capacity of Department of Defense (DoD) installations to conduct evidence-based sexual assault prevention programming, using the Getting to Outcomes (GTO) model. GTO lays out 10 steps known to be important to complete when conducting any program: needs assessment, goal setting, choosing programs, ensuring fit and capacity, planning, conducting implementation and outcome evaluation, conducting quality improvement, and sustaining. To build organizations' capacity to complete these steps with quality, GTO provides an evidence-based implementation support intervention that uses written guides, training, and ongoing coaching (called technical assistance). This presentation will discuss how the DoD is utilizing GTO at the service academies. Key stakeholders at each academy are being trained in the GTO process and receiving ongoing coaching including technical assistance to enhance factors related to program readiness (e.g., capacities, motivation, etc.). These sites will receive a new GTO guide that applies the approach to the sexual assault domain. The presenters (who are GTO coaches) will describe the initial engagement process with the sites, the assessment and training processes, and plans for ongoing evaluation. There will be an emphasis on lessons learned including successes and challenges.

 

Evaluation

Facilitator: Patrick McGann, Men Can Stop Rape

Location: Chesapeake Room (Bancroft Hall)

 

Are There Patterns? Examining the Reporting of Sexual Assault

Judith E. Rosenstein, Ph.D. and LCDR Danielle Litchford, MBA, Elizabeth McGuffey, Ph.D. United States Naval Academy

Margaret Nikolov, Ph.D. Kaiser Permanente 

 

Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes. While our end goal is eliminating sexual violence, an intermediary goal is increasing reporting, as reporting provides an avenue for helping survivors and the potential for prosecution. Much has been done to examine why individual survivors do or do not report their victimization and to whom they report, but little has been done to examine longitudinal reporting patterns. Such an analysis may help identify times of high or low reporting, as well as triggers and/or barriers to reporting, both of which may guide resource management and inform institutional and public policy. To explore reporting patterns, we analyze all formal reports of sexual assault made at the United States Naval Academy over the course of seven years. We find that reporting is not constant over time, but appears cyclical, with different patterns during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. We find strong support that offering a confidential reporting option increases reporting. Contrary to expectations, we find minimal evidence of an association between high-profile events and reporting patterns.

 

 

Prevention Programs: The Missed Component of Skills-Based Communication Training Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, Ph.D., Western Washington University

 

In spite of robust training in the prevention of sexual assault and harassment, colleges and universities continue to struggle with finding an effective means to eradicate this egregious behavior. This presentation reviews prevention programs at Western Washington University and raises concerns about whether these or similar university prevention programs are making a difference.  The number of sexual assault and harassment complaints is a not an indicator of the extent of the problem, due to underreporting. The context and nature of how a majority of sexual assaults and harassment occurs in student populations provide insight into the missed critical core component of skills-based communication training in our prevention programs.  The central issue of this presentation is to suggest that current training utilized widely across higher education institutions is not, by itself, fully effective in preventing assault and harassment. Compliance training, bystander intervention, and understanding consent can only be useful to students if they are first trained in enhanced communication skills. This training necessarily must be trauma-informed and not reflective of victim blaming, but rather of needed skill building.  Highlights of this presentation include: • Context/nature of sexual assault and sexual harassment of students; • Impact of social media on student-on student communication regarding sex; • How to say no--overcoming socialization patterns and learning assertive communication skills.  Conclusions: • Enhanced communication skills lead to survivor empowerment; • These skills also benefit the potential perpetrator; • Skills-based communication training must begin in middle school to fully realize a positive impact on students at colleges, universities, and service academies.

 

Evaluation of Prevention Education Programing at Naval Station Great Lakes

Paul Schewe Ph.D. and Heather Imrie M.Ed., University of Illinois at Chicago and Catharsis Productions

This presentation reviews data measuring the efficacy of a scaffolded climate change initiative by Catharsis Productions at Naval Station Great Lakes. The study assesses Sailors' knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors regarding sexual assault and bystander intervention to measure the efficacy of the initiative. The initiative is comprised of two different programs delivered three weeks apart, and a quarterly program for Leadership. The program design is grounded in the principles of moral education, and integrates best practices from prevention, public health, and bystander intervention. Moral education aims to increase students' moral reasoning, helping them become respectful, just, and productive members of their community. Bystander intervention is a well-established best practice. The current study is a quasi-experimental design, including a 19-item attitudinal measure, 12 items from Burns Bystander Measure, a 7-item Behavioral Intention Measure, and a free answer response to a Bystander Intervention Vignette.

Only the quantitative data will be reviewed here. Pre-intervention data was collected from 11,604 Sailors; 8,351 Sailors completed the post-intervention survey. Independent sample t-tests revealed that Sailors demonstrated significant improvements in their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions regarding sexual assault and an increase in their intentions to intervene in certain circumstances. Despite presentation fatigue sailors still improved upon already very high scores affirming the scaffolded training approach as a best practice. This study adds to the mounting evidence of the effectiveness of prevention efforts that take a bystander intervention approach and introduces the field to the framework of moral education as a best practice for prevention education.