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Current Trends in Sexual Violence Prevention. Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, PhD, MCHES University of Arkansas Kim Webb, MEd Washington University in St. Louis. Introductions. Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, PhD, MCHES Director, STAR Central Pat Walker Health Center University of Arkansas.

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current trends in sexual violence prevention

Current Trends in Sexual Violence Prevention

Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, PhD, MCHES

University of Arkansas

Kim Webb, MEd

Washington University in St. Louis


Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, PhD, MCHES

Director, STAR Central

Pat Walker Health Center

University of Arkansas

Kim Webb, MEd

Assistant Director for Sexual Assault

and Community Health Services

Habif Health and Wellness Center

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Various programs are referenced during this presentation for the purpose of providing examples.
    • Unless otherwise noted during the presentation, the presenters are not marketing, promoting, or affiliated with any such programs mentioned.
  • Some images may be considered offensive to some individuals. Such material is intended for the facilitation of learning and is not meant to offend.
  • Throughout the presentation, we will:
    • define sexual violence
    • discuss cultural manifestations of sexual violence
    • identify current sexual violence prevention education trends
historical overview of acknowledgement of violence against women
Historical Overview of Acknowledgement of Violence Against Women

In the 1870s courts in the United States stopped recognizing the common-law principle that a husband had the right to "physically chastise an errant wife".

1962: In New York, domestic violence cases are transferred from Criminal Court to Family Court where only civil procedures apply.

historical overview cont
Historical Overview cont.

1966 The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded to end sexual discrimination. 

1972 Title IX, which outlaws sex discrimination in education, is passed. 

historical overview
Historical Overview

Late 1960's & Early 1970's: The women's liberation movement sets the stage for the battered women's movement. Women's hotlines and crisis centers provide a context for battered women to speak out and seek help.

1972: In June, the first emergency rape crisis line opens in Washington, D.C.

historical overview1
Historical Overview

1973: From 1968 to 1973, the crime of rape increased 62% nationwide.

1975: Most U.S. states allow wives to bring criminal action against a husband who inflicts injury upon her.

1985: Tracey Thurman of Connecticut was the first woman to win a civil suit as a battered wife.

history of support for violence prevention work and education
History of support for violence prevention work and education
  • VAWA 1994:
    • Coordinated community response
    • Recognition and support for community service
    • Federal prosecution for DV and SA crimes
  • VAWA 2000:
    • Broadened scope of work to include stalking and dating violence
    • Created legal assistance for victims
    • Created supervised visitation for children
    • Improved protections for immigrant victims
history of support for violence prevention work and education1
History of support for violence prevention work and education
  • January 5, 2006:Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act.
    • Improved services for immigrants
    • Outlined prevention strategies
    • Developed culturally and linguistically specific services
history of support for violence prevention work and education2
History of support for violence prevention work and education

Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE ACT, S.834)

  • Current proposal to the 112th Congress
  • Requires that all colleges and universities have clear policies regarding:
    • sexual assault,
    • domestic violence,
    • dating violence and
    • stalking
  • Mandates bystander intervention programming

History of support for violence prevention work and education

Title IX

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment prohibited by Title IX.

Title IX protects students in connection with all school related events.

If a school knows or reasonably should know about student-on-student harassment, Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

OCR recommends that all schools implement preventive education programs and make victim resources, including comprehensive victim services available.

defining sexual violence
Defining Sexual Violence
  • Any involuntary sexual act in which a person was forced to engage against her/his will.
  • Force includes threats, coercion, or physical force.
  • Types of rape include: acquaintance rape, date rape, gang rape, stranger rape, drug-facilitated rape, etc.
defining sexual violence1
Defining Sexual Violence
  • “Dear Colleague Letter”

(US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, April 2011)

    • “Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
    • “physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent”
    • includes “rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion”
defining sexual violence2
Defining Sexual Violence
  • Sexual violence occurs along a spectrum

Media Misogyny

Sexual Assault and Rape





Sexual Harassment

Hyper-masculine Behavior

college rape statistics
College Rape Statistics
  • National College Health Risk Behavior Study (1995) found that 1 in 5 college women experienced a rape in their lifetimes.
  • National College Women Sexual Victimization Study (Fisher et al., 2000) found that between one-fifth to one-fourth college women experience completed or attempted rapes while in college.
      • Off campus rape is more prevalent
      • On campus rape primarily in living quarters (victim’s residence, another’s residence, fraternity houses)
college rape statistics1
College Rape Statistics
  • The Campus Sexual Assault Study (Krebs et al., 2007) found:
    • the majority of rapes occur when women are incapacitated, primarily by alcohol
    • freshmen and sophomores are at greater risk
    • a large majority of rapes occur by men that women know and trust
prevention efforts over time
Prevention Efforts Over Time

Awareness campaigns

Fear based programming

Self protection

Men’s issue

Everybody’s issue—a community health issue

general awareness programs
General Awareness Programs
  • Awareness programs bring greater attention to the issue of sexual violence through a variety of formats:
      • Marches
      • Outreach exhibits
      • Information tables
  • By themselves, awareness programs do not facilitate behavior change, nor build skills.
      • Additional education opportunities should also be offered as part of a comprehensive program.
general awareness programs1
General Awareness Programs
  • Outreach Exhibits
    • Health Fairs, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Orientation, Alcohol Awareness Events, etc…
general awareness programs3
General Awareness Programs
  • Marches
    • Take Back the Night
    • Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
general awareness programs4
General Awareness Programs

Campus Clothesline Project

general awareness programs5
General Awareness Programs

Holiday Tree of Hope and Support (created by the University of Arkansas RESPECT program)

general awareness programs6
General Awareness Programs

The Fourth Flag Project (created by University of Arkansas RESPECT program)

self defense
Self Defense

Self defense programs often are offered as rape prevention programs

Self defense programs typically are limited to female participants

self defense1
Self Defense
  • Some common self defense programs offered:
    • RAD Systems (Rape Aggression Defense)
      • “women-only course that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training”
    • AWARE (Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment)
      • “Pepper spray, persuaders, stun guns, firearms. What works, what doesn't? AWARE is a non-profit group dedicated toyour safety.”
    • Police departments and martial artists
self defense2
Self Defense
  • Reasons why self defense programs are offered by colleges:
    • they attract an audience with relative ease
    • they make “sense” to people
    • they provide an immediate return from an evaluative standpoint
  • But, are these reasons valid enough?
    • Advocates and Opponents of self defense classes exist
self defense3
Self Defense
  • Advocates of self defense classes believe these courses:
    • provide women with physical survival techniques necessary to repel attacks
    • help prevent future violence by developing traits such as assertiveness and confidence in individuals
self defense4
Self Defense
  • Opponents of self defense classes believe these courses:
    • may perpetuate rape myths and victim blaming
    • do not properly prepare women for an attack
    • do not adequately address acquaintance rape threats
    • provide a dangerous false sense of security
    • don’t take into account that most rapes occur when women are “incapacitated”
self defense5
Self Defense
  • Are self defense courses truly rape/sexual assault prevention?
    • When such a situation calls for self defense, an act of sexual aggression/violence has already begun.
    • In this sense, self defense is intervention, NOT prevention!
defining rape culture
Defining “Rape Culture”
  • Acceptance as the social norm, a complex of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that encourage male sexual aggression and support a continuum of threatened violence, often against women, ranging from sexual remarks to sexual assault and rape.
  • Often, sexual violence is assumed to be inevitable, but much of what is accepted as to be expected is indeed the acting out of social norms that can be changed.
social ecological theory
Social Ecological Theory

Consideration must be given that the behaviors and attitudes are interconnected and influenced within multiple layers. Addressing change must occur within all to challenge the culture of rape and to redefine social norms.





media literacy
Media Literacy
  • “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms”
  • Many forms of media exist
  • For our purposes, ask:
    • what message(s) are we getting from media
    • does media “denounce and counter” or “support and perpetuate” a culture of rape
media literacy1
Media Literacy
  • Within media, be aware of the prevalence of:
    • rape myths
    • inequalities, particularly gender inequalities
    • rigid gender stereotypes and gender roles
    • objectification of women
    • sexualized humor and terms
    • misogyny
    • sexualized violence
    • hypermasculinity
media literacy example
Media Literacy - Example
  • Bill O’Reilly:
    • “She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning.”
      • Statement made while discussing the rape and murder of 18-year-old Jennifer Moore during his nationally syndicated radio show on August 2, 2004.
media literacy example1
Media Literacy - Example
  • New York Times article quoted neighbors in reference to the gang rape of an 11 year old girl in Cleveland, TX:
    • “They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.”
      • Published March 8, 2011
media literacy example11
Media Literacy - Example

The text copy of this Francesco Biasia handbag ad reads:

“Women Accessories.

Loved by Men.”

media literacy example18
Media Literacy - Example
  • “Rape Me” – Nirvana
    • Rape me....Rape me my friend...Rape me...Rape me again...I'm not the only one...Hate me...Do it and do it again...Waste me...Rape me my friend
media literacy example19
Media Literacy - Example
  • “Oochie Wally” - Nas and the Bravehearts of QB Finest
    • The first 30 seconds of the song...He really really really f#$ked my coochie, He really really really turned me out, He really really really got to gut me, He really really made me scream and shout, He really taught me how to work my body, He really taught me how to do it with my mouth, He really really tried to hurt me hurt me, I really love his thug and gangsta style......

media literacy example20
Media Literacy - Example
  • a satire aimed at male audiences
  • “comical” questions are asked and answered, usually regarding women and tips on how to get them, sex references to males, and defense mechanisms in deadly & harmful situations, and also firearms
  • Specialists with Masters and PhD degrees give information from which the viewer can learn
media literacy example22
Media Literacy - Example

while scurrying the ceiling beams of apartments, Remy briefly stops to watch a couple who go from a gun standoff to an embrace

~ Ratatouille

considered one of the greatest romances of all time, yet Rhett takes Scarlet by force

~ Gone With the Wind

media literacy example23
Media Literacy - Example

Grand Theft Auto: kill a prostitute for a quick score.

Atari’s Custer’s Revenge: avoid the arrows and then have sex with a woman tied to a pole.


RapeLay: a rape simulation game

violence in video gaming has been

around longer than most people realize.

media literacy example24
Media Literacy – Example
  • Virginia Department of Health social marketing campaign aimed at men 18-29 to reduce statutory rape and sexual coercion of minors by older adults. 
media literacy example25
Media Literacy – Example
  • The “My Strength Campaign” developed by Men Can Stop Rape
media literacy example26
Media Literacy - Example
  • “How do you use your power?” poster series created by the University of Arkansas (shown are 3 of 8 poster designs)

Please do not duplicate.

media literacy example27
Media Literacy - Example
  • Bystander intervention poster series created by the University of Arkansas (shown are 2 of 4 poster designs)

Please do not duplicate.

masculinity and hyper masculinity
Masculinity and Hyper masculinity
  • Hegemonic masculinity
    • marked by a tendency for the male to dominate other males and subordinate females
    • not necessarily the most prevalent form of male expression, but rather the most socially endorsed
      • aggressiveness
      • strength
      • drive
      • ambition
      • self-reliance
masculinity cont
Masculinity Cont.

sex role socialization

rape myths

lack of sanctions for woman abuse

male peer group support


all-male membership groups

sports teams as contributors to sexual violence

Carr, J. L., & VanDeusen, K. (2002). The relationship between family of origin violence and dating violence in college

men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(6), 630-646.

masculinity and media
Masculinity and media
  • In most media portrayals, male characters are rewarded for:
    • self-control and the control of others
    • aggression and violence
    • financial independence
    • physical desirability
    • physical ability and strength

Cultural beliefs about “manhood”

Average guy

One of the guys

bystander intervention programs
Bystander Intervention Programs

Primary Prevention

Community Health Model

Population Level Programming

Sustainable/Social Change

bystander intervention
Bystander Intervention
  • Gives all community members a specific role
    • interrupting situations
    • speaking out against social norms that support sexual violence, and
    • having skills to be an effective and supportive ally to survivors
goals of bystander intervention
Goals of Bystander Intervention
  • increase awareness and understanding of the problem
  • increase feelings of responsibility to solve the problem
  • increase commitment to act
  • empower people to act both individually and collectively

(McGann, 2005)

research and evaluation
Research and Evaluation
  • Banyard et al. (2007) found:
    • Participants in the treatment conditions showed improvements across measures of attitudes, knowledge, and behavior while the control group did not.
    • Most program effects persisted at 4- and 12-month follow-ups.
    • The program appeared to benefit both women and men.

Banyard, V. L., Moynihan, M. M. and Plante, E. G. (2007), Sexual violence prevention through bystander education: An

experimental evaluation. Journal of Community Psychology, 35: 463–481. doi: 10.1002/jcop.20159

research and evaluation1
Research and Evaluation
  • McMahon et al. (2011) found:
    • Gender is the most salient predictor of both rape myths and bystander attitudes
    • negative relationship between rape myth acceptance and willingness to intervene as a bystander
    • rape prevention programs must include content on both rape myths and bystander intervention

Sarah McMahon, Judy L. Postmus, Ruth Anne Koenick. Conceptualizing the Engaging Bystander Approach to Sexual

Violence Prevention on College Campuses Journal of College Student Development - Volume 52, Number 1,

January/February 2011, pp. 115-130

examples of bystander intervention programs
Examples of Bystander Intervention Programs

Jackson Katz—Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP): Gender violence prevention education and training

Alan Berkowitz—Response ability

Stephen Thompson—No Zebras, No Excuses

Plante, Banyard, Moynihan, and Eckstein (2007) “Bringing in the Bystander”

Men of Strength

Dorothy Edwards—Green Dot Bystander Intervention Strategy

One Student---No Woman Left Behind



Katz, J. (n.d.). Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP): Gender violence prevention education and training. Retrieved 2007 from

Berkowitz, AD (2009). RESPONSE ABILITY:A Complete Guide to Bystander Intervention. Chicago, Beck & Company.

Thompson, Stephen M., No Zebras, No Excuses- A Students Guide to the Realities of Sexual Aggression, 2007. (Negotiating publication of book.)

Plante, Banyard, Moynihan, and Eckstein (2007) “Bringing in the Bystander” programs.

Men of Strength Campaigns.

Dorothy Edwards. Green Dot Bystander Intervention Strategy.

Lauren Bryeans, April Grolle and Lauren Chief Elk—No Woman Left Behind.

concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts
  • Current trends include:
    • Comprehensive programming
    • Reframing sexual violence prevention as a community responsibility
    • Paradigm shift regarding cultural attitudes, beliefs, and behavior toward sexual violence
    • Addressing sexual violence at all levels
    • On-going research to evaluate efficacy of programming