HELP: The Movement

A National Movement to HELP: Heal, Educate, Lead, Prevent

A Positive, Proactive Approach That Engages Men & Women to work together to eradicate campus sexual assault

HELP is a National Movement to: Heal Survivors, Educate Key Segments, Lead the Charge to Transform & Prevent Campus Sexual Assault

HELP The Movement strategy delivered by PAVE Founder Angela Rose to the White House on February 21, 2014.

HELP: A Holistic Approach - Combatting the issue of sexual assault requires a cutting edge, cross-disciplinary approach that encompasses top-down and bottom-up strategies engaging students, faculty and administration to be a part of the solution. It needs to be inclusive of all stakeholders and communities including LGBTQ and other under-served populations with a focus on prevention, education of key segments and include an arm of healing and survivor support. Having brought together dozens of leading national organizations, PAVE is launching a coordinated, national effort in 2014 to galvanize the movement on college campuses across the country to HELP: Heal, Educate, Lead & Prevent

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PLEASE DONATE to support our crucial efforts:

CLICK HERE FOR PAVE’s PRESS KIT

PAVE Ambassador Julia Dixon – White House & BBC

PAVE’s Newest PAVE Ambassador Needs Your Help to Get to the White House!

Julia Dixon has been invited to participate in the White House taskforce to combat campus sexual assault. The event is right around the corner, Friday Feb 21 so this is an immediate request…every bit helps!  We need to help raise funds to get her there – please consider donating and help us meet our goal of $500. HELP US GET SURVIVOR VOICES IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

NOTE: Extra funds raised above the goal will be used for Bystander Intervention programming in the fraternity and sorority communities!

 

BREAKING NEWS – Julia was featured on BBC on Feb 19 – CLICK HERE

Julia Dixon was born and raised in a suburb of Akron, Ohio. She graduated in 2011 from The University of Akron where she received a Bachelor’s degree in English, with minor concentrations in Spanish and Professional Writing. Julia was raped in her dorm her first week at Akron, completely changing the course of her college experience. The subsequent events of that crime, which ended in court with a plea of “guilty” a year and a half later, lead her to realize the importance of speaking out in light of injustice and fighting for the rights of others. In 2014, Julia filed a Clery complaint against her university for mishandling her case and that of several other students. She hopes that creating dialogue will remove the stigmas of assault, allowing education and understanding to flow through our nation to the people who most need it.

CLICK HERE to read about Julia Dixon in NEWSWEEK

PAVE Ambassador Jasmin Needs Your Help to Get to the White House

PAVE’s Newest PAVE Ambassador Needs Your Help to Get to the White House!

Jasmin Enriquez has been invited to participate in the White House taskforce to combat campus sexual assault. The event is right around the corner, Friday Feb 21 so this is an immediate request…every bit helps!  We need to help raise funds to get her there – please consider donating and help us meet our goal of $1000 to cover plane fare and other travel expenses. HELP US GET SURVIVOR VOICES IN THE WHITE HOUSE!


 

Jasmin Enriquez is an activist from Southern California. She is a 2013 graduate of Penn State University where she earned her Bachelor of Art’s degree in Communication Arts and Sciences and also minored in Women’s Studies. After being sexually assaulted as a senior in high school and as a first-year student in college she decided to speak up about her experiences to try to make an impact in the community. Through her soon-to-be non-profit, Only With Consent, she plans on spreading the message of consent to upset rape culture and generate consent culture. She believes open dialogue and age-appropriate education are the first steps to creating a world that values consent.

News articles:

SVAW: Asking for Consent IS Sexy

April brings local and national efforts for sexual violence awareness

SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK AT PENN STATE – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER

We will also be raising money at the Vagina Monologues in Chicago for this. Extra funds raised will be used for an “Only With Consent” campaign for college campuses across the US!

 

 

 

Obama Launches Effort to Battle Campus Sexual Assault Epidemic

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2014

Contact: Sarah Rice, MTV – PAVE Ambassador

(877) 399-1346, Ext 4 - SarahRice@PavingTheWay.net

 

Obama Launches Effort to Battle Campus Sexual Assault Epidemic

National Group Applauds Efforts and Thanks Sexual Assault Survivors for Their Role

Arlington, VA – This week, President Barack Obama announced the launch of a new focus to combat the alarming rate of sexual assaults committed on college campuses. According to a new report by the White House, college women are the most at-risk for rape and sexual assault.  The report, “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action,” says that 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted at college but that only 12 percent of student victims report the assault.

Sarah Rice from MTV is an ambassador for PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment  – the national nonprofit that convened the National Campus Sexual Assault Summit at Georgetown Law in September of 2013.

PAVE has continued to help to build the collaborative national movement to combat campus sexual assault and has a strong focus on prevention through bystander intervention training. PAVE also has created awareness campaigns as well as workshops about cultivating communities of support with the goal of having no survivors feeling alone or disempowered.

PAVE is hopeful that this focus on college campus sexual assault will also trickle down into high schools – because that is also a critical population.  Earlier this month, a high school student Daisy Coleman attempted suicide after she was raped due to the exhausting fight for justice, lack of support and severe bullying from classmates.

Oftentimes, the process to seek justice can very re-traumatizing for survivors of sexual trauma and PAVE credits the outspoken survivors in that past few years who have taken to the national stage to promote this issue such as PAVE Ambassador Laura Dunn, Annie E. Clark, Andrea Pino, Wendy Wyler and many others.

PAVE Founder Angela Rose said, “This week was a momentous win for our collective national movement.  We are profoundly grateful for the current Administration to make this a top priority. PAVE also offers a debt of gratitude for all of the survivors who have used their voice to shatter the silence of sexual violence!”

Sarah Rice travels the country and speaks to college students and works with PAVE to engage men and women to be a part of the solution focusing on bystander intervention and supporting survivors.

Sarah Rice said, “I have heard countless stories from college students who have been sexually assaulted on campus and were sadly re-traumatized when they tried to report. PAVE applauds the President and his Administration for their renewed efforts on this critical issue, and we urge the task force to include survivors who have experienced the trauma firsthand. Survivors’ voices need to be heard!”

# # #

PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment is a national nonprofit that uses education and action to shatter the silence and prevent sexual violence. PAVE’s work has been featured on CNN, Oprah Winfrey Network, and in TIME. www.ShatteringTheSilence.org

 

 

Fear No Fashion 2013

Who: PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment)

When: Friday, October 11, 2013 – 7-8pm: VIP Reception, 8-10pm: Event

Where: Room 1520 Loft, Chicago, IL

What: PAVE’s 5th Annual Fear No Fashion fundraiser

  • Will include a fashion show by Chicago designers, professionals models from Agency Galatea
  • Local and national celebrity guest appearances
  • Silent auction
  • Sponsored cocktails
  • Red carpet and celebrity VIP reception

Why: Because fashion is about feeling Beautiful and Empowered!

  • Fear No Fashion’s objective is to promote personal empowerment
  • Your donations benefit PAVE, an international nonprofit that uses education and action to shatter the silence and prevent sexual and domestic violence. PAVE’s work has been featured on CNN, Today Show, and in TIME

PURCHASE TICKETS – $65 for General, $125 includes VIP Reception, Gift Bag & Runway Seating

 

Fear No Fashion Tickets

 

SPONSOR OPPORTUNITIES!

CLICK HERE for Sponsor Packet!

FEAR NO FASHION Sponsor Options

 

Recent Media: 

CNN, The Lead: http://youtu.be/5Q5XjPxQeBE

ABC 7 News Chicago: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources&id=8659025

CNN Breakthrough Women about PAVE Founder Angela Rose: http://bit.ly/ZQSmtA

Host Committee Members Include:

Andrea Metcalf – Fitness Expert, Author, and Media Personality seen on Today Show and Good Morning America

Andrea Parsons – Fashion Model and Actress

April Rose – Model and Actress Starring in Grown-Ups 2

Bob Graham – Manager Director, UBS

Candace Jordan – Chicago Tribune social columnist, ChicagoNow blogger, Host Watch312, Candid Candace Chicago

Chase Clark – CHASEevents

Haley Lertola – Room 1520

Justin Roman – B96

JuneElise Marasigan – Room 1520

Nichole Niemann – Fashions with Flair

Merri Dee – Chicago Broadcasting Legend and Author

Marcellas Reynolds – Celebrity Stylist seen on The Tyra Banks Show, Style Network, E! News, and Big Brother

Marie P. Anderson – International Model Agent, Scout, and Director of Agency Galatea

Rafer Weigel  – ABC 7 Sports Anchor and Sports Reporter

Tim Toth – Celebrity Hair Stylist & Owner of Lather Chicago

Special Guests include:Miss Illinois 2013 Brittany Smith

Alicia Kozakiewicz: Survivor of kidnapping seen on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, CNN and many more

 

National Campus Sexual Assault Summit

NATIONAL CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT SUMMIT

REGISTER TO ATTEND OR PARTICIPATE LIVE VIRTUALLY!

Galvanizing the collaborative national movement!

12:30-5pm EST * 11:30-4:00pm CST * 10:30-3pm MST * 9:30-2pm PST

TWITTER HASHTAG #PaveSummit

Broadcasting Live to Over 300 Colleges with an Interactive Town Hall Featuring Special Guest Sarah Rice from MTV!

Register to participate LIVE from your University! We encourage you to gather a multi-disciplinary group including RAs, Dean of Students, Campus Police, and student leaders. Limited in person seating at Georgetown Law – registration required. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

Topics Include:

  • Engaging Men in the Movement & Bystander Intervention
  • The Survivors Voice & Organizing on Campus
  • Policy, Title IX, and the Justice System
  • Serving Under-represented Populations: Students of Color and LGBTQQA
  • Male Survivors
  • Galvanizing the National Movement: Prevention and Empowerment
  • Best Practices and Next Steps
SEPTEMBER is National Campus Safety Awareness Month & this Summit is a part of the national Safe Campus, Strong Voices Campaign!

Safe Campus, Strong Voices campaign is a partnership of PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment and Clery Center for Security on Campus for September, which is National Campus Safety Awareness Month. Collaborators include Stalking Resource Center, RESPONSE ABILITY Project, the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Hollaback!, Stop the Silence, Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER), HazingPrevention.org, Break the Cycle, and the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan. Special thanks to our host Georgetown Law Advocates Against Sexual Violence!

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES!

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE SPONSOR PACKET!

 

Summit Sponsor Options

 

CLICK HERE for more info on this campaign!

Special thanks to our host Georgetown Law Advocates Against Sexual Violence.

PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment is a multi-national nonprofit that uses education and action to shatter the silence and prevent sexual and domestic violence. PAVE’s work has been featured on CNN, Today Show, and in TIME.

Action Alert! College Professor who Violated Sexual Harassment Policies

Students Demand that a College Professor who Violated Sexual Harassment Policies Not Teach This Fall

ACTION ALERT: Click Here!

RALLY, Sept 10: Join Wendy Wyler on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). Wendy Wyler will be speaking out in an on campus rally this coming week, September 10th, 2o13 at 1pm in front of Adanti Student Center next to the music building, Earl Hall.

September 3, 2013 – NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This week, Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) allowed a professor who violated its sexual harassment policies to continue teaching despite an ongoing Title IX law suit and a 2,000 signature petition full of community outrage.

In 2011, Wendy Wyler reported to SCSU that Prof. David Chevan had verbally and physically sexually harassed her. In addition to making several unwanted sexual advances, Prof. Chevan led Wendy into a storage room, closed the door, stood in front of it, and continually propositioned her. She was traumatized: “When he shut the door behind him, everything about him changed. I wondered if anyone would hear me if I screamed. I repeatedly told him no.”

Wendy reported to SCSU, where officials asked her to “really consider whether or not I want to make a sexual harassment report,” citing a long process and suggesting she may be overreacting. Wendy was not deterred; she filed the complaint and spent her senior year on campus feeling alienated from peers and too unsafe to take music courses since Prof. Chevan was still teaching.

Although SCSU determined that Prof. Chevan had violated its sexual harassment policies, he was allowed to continue teaching with a minor suspension. This is outrageous given his pattern of sexually harassing students stems back over a decade. “I know an alumna of SCSU who graduated more than 10 years ago and had similar problems with Chevan, but was afraid to report,” posted an anonymous faculty member to the petition started by PAVE and SurvJustice.

To demand Prof. Chevan be removed, Wendy Wyler will be speaking out in an on campus rally this coming Tuesday, September 10th at 1pm in front of Adanti Student Center with supportive students and faculty. “I’m supporting this petition because this university has done its students wrong. Ensuring the safety of your students is their job. I’m supporting this petition because I am furious,” said one SCSU student Madison Breuer. Two SCSU faculty members are supporting the students who are rallying. As one of them explained,When Wendy’s case became public, more than one of my colleagues indicated that they had information about other instances of sexual misconduct, but victims did not want to report. The fact that we have so few reported cases ought to be a red flag. The question isn’t whether there are problems . . . but rather how we respond to them.”

Wendy’s case comes at a time when many survivors of campus sexual harassment and violence have filed Title IX complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, which is under pressure to improve its enforcement. Instead of relying on the Department, Wendy has filed a federal lawsuit under Title IX against SCSU to hold it accountable.

###

PAVE is a multi-national nonprofit that uses education and action to shatter the silence of sexual violence. PAVE’s work has been featured on CNN, Today Show, and in TIME: www.ShatteringTheSilence.org

SurvJustice is an organization working to provide justice for survivors of sexual violence through effective legal assistance, institutional policymaking and legislative lobbying: www.survjustice.org

 

Mobile Giving for PAVE!

CLICK HERE TO DONATE AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Support PAVE’s prevention programming, awareness initiatives, and help survivors heal!

MOBILE GIVING OPTION:
Text - PAVE to 41444

The Reauthorization of VAWA

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act:

Important Developments For The Violence Against Women Movement, In Time For A Pivotal Anniversary


The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, also known as Campus SaVE, is legislation passed in 2013 that strives to strengthen campus security in regard to sexual assault by encouraging reporting, expanding prevention and bystander intervention education, and promoting transparency within conduct processes. Campus SaVE is part of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and provides a comprehensive reform of the sexual assault prevention and response processes already in place at colleges and universities across the United States.

The provisions of the act will be implemented started in March 2014, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the pivotal Kitty Genovese rape and murder. Kitty Genovese was a young woman who lived in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of New York; she who was raped and murdered right outside of her home on March 14, 1964. Her story became one of the most well-known rape cases in American history and became the quintessential example in advocacy for bystander intervention education. While March 14th has always been associated with a tragic memory, with the enactment of the provisions of Campus SaVE in 2014, this date will represent both a sad remembrance of the past and a hopeful look towards a safer future.

The trajectory of Campus SaVE begins at the conception of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. The Act provided 1.6 billion dollars towards the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, including sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, sexual slavery, and intimate partner violence. The Act also established the federal Office on Violence Against Women. The ultimate goal of the Act was to draw more legislative attention to violence against women and revise the criminal justice system’s response to violence against women to make it more survivor supportive.

The initial act was considered successful, with states enacting more than 600 laws to combat violence against of women, increased rates of reporting sexual violence, and a spike in usage of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Revisions have been made since: in 2000, Congress added protections for the elderly, disabled women, and battered immigrants, and in 2005, Congress harshened penalties for repeat offenders, increased protections for trafficked immigrants, and introduced programs for sexual assault victims.[1]

Campus SaVE was first introduced as a provision of VAWA to address sexual assault on college campuses and a broader scope of intimate partner violence, including stalking, dating violence, and domestic abuse. Campus SaVE is in some ways an “upgrade” of the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which set requirements for colleges and universities receiving any federal aid to report instances of crime on their campuses. Campus SaVE expands these requirements to hold colleges and universities more accountable for crimes on their campuses and adds an education component to the effort to address sexual violence. [2]

Campus SaVE accomplishes these goals in three specific ways.

1. Victim’s Rights Provisions: Colleges are now required to establish a basic framework of clear and well- communicated standards regarding how the college handles cases of sexual assault. These standards include survivors’ rights in court, the range of realistic sanctions for convicted perpetrators, detailed outlines of the processes and procedures, etc.

2. Education: Colleges are now required to instate prevention and awareness education programs for incoming students and employees that clearly define consent, explain what the different sex offenses are, and educate about risk reduction and bystander intervention.

3. Best Practices Report: Colleges are encouraged to use a Best Practices Report put out by the United States Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services. This report recognizes the most effective, supportive, and judicious practices in the country of preventing and responding to sexual assault and intimate partner violence. [3]

The controversy surrounding the act involves an additional requirement included in the original bill, a mandate to use a lower standard of evidence in court to convict potential perpetrators, called “the preponderance of the evidence standard”. The preponderance of the evidence standard is used in most civil cases; in order to convict under the preponderance standard, the evidence has to indicate that the proposition is more likely to be true than not true. Compared to the other prevalent standards – “clear and convincing” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” – which call for 75% and 95% of evidence to match the claim, respectively, the preponderance of evidence standard is weaker and allows for easier conviction of potential perpetrators. The original bill proclaimed that “search proceedings shall- use the preponderance of evidence standard”. However, this mandate was struck and the bill passed without any specification as to which standard of evidence should be used.

Wendy Murphy, an acclaimed victims’ rights attorney, spoke out against the change, claiming that choosing a higher burden of proof will “erode the value of Title IX” because schools will be able to ignore and cover up sexual misconduct more easily. [4] As the number of institutions being accused of handling sexual assaults poorly increases, it is increasingly evident that sexual assault is an issue that many schools either ignore, undervalue as an issue, mishandle, or address in a way that increases oppression and discrimination on the basis of sex. : for example, in 2002 Harvard adopted a policy requiring victims of sexual assault to provide “sufficient independent corroboration” as a prerequisite for the university conducting a full investigation and resolution of their complaints. Such information could include an email sent by the victim to a friend, a prompt report of the incident, etc. [5] Additional affirmation of an incident indicates that sexual assaults are more falsely reported than other crimes, and therefore require supplemental evidence in order to be afforded university attention.  Other schools that have stood in a negative light over the past year include Amherst College, Yale University, University of Notre Dame, Harvard University (again), and others. Accusations range from improper treatment of sexual assault cases (Amherst, Notre Dame), a hostile environment that discriminate against females (Yale), and unfair judicial proceedings for sexual assault victims (Harvard).

Because of the sensitive nature of sexual assault, the low reporting and sentencing rate, and the tendency of our society to victim-blame and weight the denial of an offender more than the claim of a victim, a lower standard of evidence makes up for years of oppression that survivors have had to handle at the hands of the justice system. According to Murphy, since so many highly-ranked, prestigious institutions have been accused of violating victims’ rights, raising the standard of evidence required to convict an alleged perpetrators will only exacerbate all of the existing ways schools are failing to provide justice for rape victims. Another factor to consider is the pervasive rape culture that cloaks college campuses, which often encourages the questioning of the victim instead of the perpetrator and often denies the victim the emotional, physical, and mental justice they seek. In environments that so clearly favor perpetrators and not victims, a lower standard of evidence would encourage more victims to come forward as there would be a greater change they would actually be believed and treated with respect.

Additionally, opponents claimed that since the preponderance standard is enforced in cases involving race, religion, and ethnicity, it would logically also be applied to matters of sex discrimination.

However, the act remains landmark legislation in the movement to change national attitudes towards sexual assault. The components of the act that still remain with the act will be implemented starting in March of 2014, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the Kitty Genovese rape and murder. Kitty Genovese was a young woman who lived in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of New York who was raped and murdered right outside of her home on March 14, 1964. What drew so much attention to the case was that several people, the exact number of which is disputed, either heard or saw her attack and did nothing to stop the crime. Genovese was stabbed once and cried out for help; her attacker left the scene, but came back with a disguise and proceeded to rape and then murder her. [6] If action had been taken after her first attack, there is a good chance she would have survived.

The case clearly demonstrated the importance of bystander intervention and sexual assault prevention education. Clearly, teaching bystander intervention in schools and colleges is critical to stopping sexual violence, and the mandate in Campus SaVE that requires bystander intervention and prevention programs in colleges represents a huge step towards attaining safer campuses. Evaluation of previous sexual assault prevention programs have shown mixed results, but recent research has shown that programs conducted by student leaders in particular have been successful in increasing reporting and reducing sexual violence. Successful programs are generally student-led, focus on that causes of sexual violence on that specific campus, communicate skills to identify and reduce sexual violence, and attempt to change attitudes and behaviors towards sexual violence[7]. If properly implemented, this provision of the Campus SaVE Act could significantly reduce sexual violence on college campuses across the country and prevent the apathy that caused the March 14th, 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese and thousands of other rapes and murders than have occurred since.


[1] Seghetti, Lisa M., and Jerome P. Bjelopera. “http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/
R42499.pdf.” Congressional Research Service. N.p.: CRS Report for Congress,
2012. Congressional Research Service. Web. 10 June 2013.
<http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42499.pdf>.

[2] Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act) Summary. Stetson Law,
n.d. Web. 10 June 2013. <http://www.law.stetson.edu/conferences/highered/
archive/media/SaVE%20Summary.pdf>.

[3] Ibid

[4] “Campus ‘Safety’ Bill Endangers Rape Prosecutions.” Women’s News.
womensenews.org, 17 May 2013. Web. 10 June 2013. <http://womensenews.org/
story/rape/120516/
campus-safety-bill-endangers-rape-prosecutions#.UbnrgfmsiSo>.

[5] Murphy, Wendy. “Using Title IX’s “Prompt and Equitable” Hearing
Requirements to Force Schools to Provide Fair Judicial Proceedings to
Redress Sexual Assault on Campus.” New England Law Review 40.1007 (2006):
n. pag. Print.

[6] Rasenberger, Jim. “Kitty, 40 Years Later.” New York Times [New York] 8 Feb.
2004: n. pag. New York Times. Web. 10 June 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/
2004/02/08/nyregion/kitty-40-years-later.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm>.

[7] Banyard, Victoria, Mary Moynihan, and Maria Crossman. “Reducing Sexual Violence
on Campus: The Role of Student Leaders as Empowered Bystanders.” Journal of
College Student Developement 50.4 (2009): 446-57. Project Muse. Web. 20
June 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/
journal_of_college_student_development/v050/50.4.banyard.pdf>.

 

Underreporting of Rape in Minority Communities

 

Every year in the United States, there are about 207, 754 victims of sexual assault. 97% of rapists will never spend one day in jail. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced a sexual assault in their lifetime. Every 2 minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. These frightening statistics demonstrate the scope of sexual violence in the United States, and each one leads to one of the most shocking, that for every 100 sexual assaults, roughly 54 go unreported. On college campuses, where sexual assault rates climb as high as 1 in 4 women having experienced assault, studies have shown that 95% of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported[1] (http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims). An oppressive culture of victim-blaming, fear of the perpetrator, and the sensitive nature of sexual assault prevent all victims from reporting the crimes committed against them to local or campus authorities. For minority groups and women of color in particular, there are very different social challenges incurred when reporting an incidence of rape.  As racial minorities have experienced a long history of racism and sexual exploitation in the United States, sexual crimes against women of color have been normalized and offensive racial and gender stereotypes have steadily facilitated the oppression of minorities using sexual violence as a tool.

Before exploring the intersection of race and gender as it relates to sexual violence, it’s important to define the similarities between rape and racism. Both ugly phenomena oppress victims with power, dominance, and control: rapist and racists alike involve one “dominant” party to suppress the rights of a “weaker” party using coercion and/or violence. Both promote myth rather than fact by playing upon incorrect stereotypes, such as “she was asking for it” or “black men are criminals”. Both are furthered by silence that is masked by fear of rebuttal and backlash, and both have played a very significant role in the formative history of our nation. (http://www.uncfsp.org/projects/userfiles/File/DCE-STOP_NOW/Racism_and_Rape.pdf)[2]

Here is a chart of the lifetime rape/attempted rape rate for women, by race.

All women: 17.6%
White women: 17.7%
Black women: 18.8%
Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
Mixed race women: 24.4%[3]

(http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims)

Clear from this breakdown is that Native American women are raped at the highest rate, followed by mixed race women. Black women are raped at a slightly higher rate than white women, and Asian American women are raped at the lowest rate, at 6.8%. However, these figures could be underestimated by the stereotypes that contribute to underreporting such as the myth of the wild, sexual black “Jezebel” or the submissive, deserving Asian woman.[4] (http://www.safercampus.org/blog/2009/10/race-and-rape-keeping-racism-out-of-your-campaign/)

While there isn’t extensive research as to the reporting rates of Asians or Hispanics, there have been several studies regarding the racial implications of reporting for Native American and African American rape victims. The intertwined sexual and racial experience of both groups plays an important role in the way others perceive survivors and perpetrators of these races, which affects reporting rates and the healing journey of victims of these races. Both the experiences of African American women and Native American women have been consistent with the theory of “rapability”, the extent to which a person’s rape is considered a legitimate act of violence or simply a casual encounter of which a weak, insignificant person was dominated. [5]

As slaves both in the fields and within the home, African-American women were considered less virtuous and “eliciting” of institutional sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape for which perpetrators – often the victims’ owners – faced virtually no penalties for their behaviors. After federal US laws began to prohibit importations of Africans, slave-owners systematically raped black women in order to produce more slaves for the now-depleted “workforce”. Even as America transitioned into a post-slavery era, black men accused of raping white women were often executed or heavily punished while the rapes of African-American women went virtually unnoticed.[6] Today, studies have shown that if the victim of rape is an African-American woman, the sentence for the assailant will be lighter than the sentence given to the assailant of a white woman. In 1989, immediately after the infamous rape of the Central Park Jogger, a white woman that worked on Wall Street, a nameless black woman was raped and forced to jump from a twenty-one story building, and received barely any of the media attention that was so fixated on the minority youths wrongly accused of raping the Jogger. Both attacks were equally as violent and horrifying, yet received vastly variant degrees of attention from the media.[7] (http://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/29/nyregion/in-week-of-an-infamous-rape-28-other-victims-suffer.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm)

Native American/American Indian women have also been subjected to a violent, oppressive sexual identity as defined by other “dominant” genders and races. From America’s beginnings came the mass rapes of thousands of Native American women at the hands of Christopher Columbus and other North American explorers that “raped and pillaged” their way into conquering the new found land. Research amongst Native American survivors has shown that an attack, sexual or otherwise, is an attack on his or her identity as a Native. From many colonial narratives, it has been established that colonists considered all Native people to be far from “real” people and deserving of murder and mistreatment. Native woman specifically experienced brutal rape as a result of the colonial perceptions that Native bodies were considered “polluted with sexual sin”, “dirty”, and “sexually violable”. [8]

Also essential to the Native American sexual experience is legal boundaries that have existed between victims and their perpetrators. Although 80% of sexual assaults against Native women are committed by a non-Native man or husband, tribal courts do not have jurisdiction to try non-Native Americans without specific authorization from Congress. With this in mind, sexual predators frequent Native American reservations, especially during hunting season; there’s virtually no action that a tribal court can take against a perpetrator of sexual violence that is a non-Native American. This violent freedom most definitely contributes to the high rate of sexual violence perpetrated against Native American women[9](http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/opinion/native-americans-and-the-violence-against-women-act.html). However, this unjust power dynamic has shifted since the passage of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which empowers tribal courts to use their jurisdiction to prosecute for against non-Native American people that perpetrate domestic violence against Native people[10] (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/03/07/president-signs-2013-vawa-empowering-tribes-protect-native-women).

The stereotypes of minority women alluded to previously within this article have also prevailed throughout history as strongly contributing to the underreporting of minority rape. The perception of minority women as “rapeable” and minority men as “angry” or “violent” is perpetrated by the following stereotypes that further oppress these already-marginalized communities. For example, the “Jezebel” stereotype dictates that black women are sexually promiscuous, immoral, and always desire sexual advances. This image is especially reinforced in portrayals of black women “jiggling and gyrating” in rap and hip-hop music videos. Also known by names like “hoochie”, “freak”, and “hoodrat”, “Jezebels” are portrayed as women that can’t possibly be raped as they are consistently exposing their bodies in an explicitly sexual way. Our communities are less inclined to accept that a woman, especially a black woman, is capable of simultaneously expressing her sexuality and being raped. Stereotypes that accompany black men – that they are “sex-crazed” “violent” and “criminals” have reinforced the racist notions that all rapists are black men. Because of the police brutality and racial profiling that black men have experienced, it may be incredibly difficult for a black woman to bring more negative attention upon the black community by reporting a rape by a black man. The statistics corroborate this dilemma: for every one white woman that reports her rape, five do not; for every black woman that reports her rape, fifteen do not[11].

“Intra-racial rape can feel like a rift between a woman and her people. The survivor is cast into silence not so much a by a desire to protect those men who perpetrated, but to protect the black men in her life who she loves, respects and trusts[12].” (http://www.theroot.com/views/rape-and-race-we-have-talk-about-it)

A prime example of this would be the 1991 Mike Tyson rape case. The case was fraught with racial stereotypes that portrayed Mike Tyson as “oversexed, prone to violent and aggressive behavior, and dumb as a brick wall”, the quintessential “Black rapist” and Desiree Washington, the sexually promiscuous “Jezebel” that should have expected the rape and for whom the rape couldn’t have been as traumatic as it would have been for a white woman.[13]

“In effect Fuller (Tyson’s defense attorney) was saying to the jury: Tyson is your worst nightmare – a vulgar, socially inept, sex-obsessed black athlete. And any woman who would voluntarily enter a hotel suite with him must have known what she as getting into. In other words, both principals were animals – the black men for the crudity of his sexual demands, the black woman for eagerly acceding to them.”

Another example of the racism that compliments accusations of rape against black men would be the Rosewood, Florida massacre of 1920. A black man that lived near Rosewood was accused of raping a white woman in a neighboring town, and the entire village was burned down by an angry mob who pursued the people living in the town for a whole week until they were all killed or had escaped by train. The town of Rosewood is now completely destroyed and serves as a tragic memory of the consequences of a white woman accusing a black man of rape. (http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/davidson/arch%20of%20aa%20life%20and%20culture/Week%2011-14/Dye,%20Historian%20Vol%2058(3)%20Spring%201996.pdf)

Native American women have faced similar stereotypes that have oppressed them from reporting their rapes and created an unequal power dynamic in courts that undervalue their rapes in court. Similar to black women, Native American women have been portrayed as “property”, promiscuous, and immoral; therefore, their rapes weren’t/aren’t valued the same way white women’s rapes were/are. Rooted in this stereotype is that face that women of color have historically worked outside the home and therefore are viewed as “unchaste” because their presence in the outside world, opposed to staying at home with the children, implied they were “accessible’ and inviting sexual advances.

These perceptions of race and rape are still prevalent today, and prevent all genders and races from receiving the protection and justice from courts they deserve as Americans. In order to fight these incorrect portrayals of race, it is critical that we change our own personal prejudices regarding race and rape and equalize prevention and response efforts for all races.


[1] “Statistics.” Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. RAINN, n.d. Web. 11 July
2013. <http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/
sexual-assault-victims)>.

[2] “How Are They Connected?” Racism and Rape. Men Stopping Rape, n.d. Web. 11 July
2013. <http://www.uncfsp.org/projects/userfiles/File/DCE-STOP_NOW/
Racism_and_Rape.pdf>.

[3] “Statistics.” Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. RAINN, n.d. Web. 11 July
2013. <http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/
sexual-assault-victims)>.

[4] “Race and Rape: Keeping Racism Out of Your Campaign.” SAFER. Students Active For
Ending Rape, n.d. Web. 11 July 2013. <http://www.safercampus.org/blog/
2009/10/race-and-rape-keeping-racism-out-of-your-campaign/>.

[5] Olive, Victoria C. “Sexual Assault against Women of Color.” Journal of Student
Research 1 (2012): 1-9. Print.

[6] Olive, Victoria C. “Sexual Assault against Women of Color.” Journal of Student
Research 1 (2012): 1-9. Print.

[7] In Week of an Infamous Rape, 28 Other Victims Suffer [New York City] 29 May
1989. New York Times. Web. 11 July 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/
29/nyregion/
in-week-of-an-infamous-rape-28-other-victims-suffer.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm>.

[8] Olive, Victoria C. “Sexual Assault against Women of Color.” Journal of Student
Research 1 (2012): 1-9. Print.

[9] Erdrich, Louise. “Rape on the Reservation.” The Opinion Pages. The New York
Times, n.d. Web. 11 July 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/
opinion/native-americans-and-the-violence-against-women-act.html>.

[10] Gillette, Jodi, and Charlie Galbraith. “President Signs 2013 VAWA – Empowering
Tribes to Protect Native Women.” The White House President Barack Obama.
The White House, n.d. Web. 11 July 2013. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/
2013/03/07/president-signs-2013-vawa-empowering-tribes-protect-native-women>.

[11] West, Carolyn. “Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and Their Homegirls: Developing an
‘Oppositional Gaze’ Toward the Images of Black Women.” Dr. Carolyn West.
Carolyn West, n.d. Web. 11 July 2013. <http://www.drcarolynwest.com/
media/sites/162/files/article_mammy-jezebel-sapphire-homegirls.pdf>.

[12] “Race and Rape: Keeping Racism Out of Your Campaign.” SAFER. Students Active For
Ending Rape, n.d. Web. 11 July 2013. <http://www.safercampus.org/blog/
2009/10/race-and-rape-keeping-racism-out-of-your-campaign/>.

[13] Burrell, Darci. “Myth, Stereotype, and the Rape of Black Women.” UCLA Women’s
Law Journal 4.1 (1993): n. pag. Print.