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Check out this growing collection of useful articles from the hub for middle and high school students and parents who are looking for information, support, and avenues of action against sexual assault in schools.

The Power of Collective Voice: I Have The Right To

November 30, 2023

By: Camille Schloeffel
4 min read

Susan and Alexander Prout have worked in advocacy and education surrounding sexual violence among high school and middle school students since their daughter, Chessy, was assaulted in 2014. Susan, Alexander and Chessy co-founded I Have the Right To, a hub for middle and high school students, parents and educators looking for information, support and avenues of action against sexual assault. Over time, they have pivoted from awareness raising to advocating for largescale systems and social change. 

Read more: The Power of Collective Voice: I Have The Right To

Meeting Susan and Alexander was a real privilege. It became clear once we started talking that we were aligned in so many ways, including in our values, theories of change, worldviews, and approaches to this work. I Have The Right To seeks to unite groups working towards preventing sexual violence to increase their power and build a collective voice. This form of movement building is lacking in the Australian context. Many groups in Australia work in silos and there is limited genuine collaboration. This is not necessarily due to any conflict, but more because many of these organisations are volunteer-run and struggle to retain members to keep up their own advocacy work. This is why organisations like I Have The Right To, that can do the groundwork to build collectives across the sector, are so integral to creating social change within powerful systems.

Susan and Alexander are working to reform school systems by proactively meeting with school leaders, delivering presentations to educators and parents, and facilitating workshops with students on sexual assault, consent and how to support victim-survivors. Their approach is to go beyond the ‘lecture’ and engage with all parts of a school in a variety of ways. This includes speaking with staff, students, parents, board members and alumni of the school community to understand the ecosystem of the school and where the issues lie. I Have The Right To has also developed a curriculum for schools to discuss consent and sexual assault with students, and schools are able to sign up to the organisation’s membership model to access this content. This whole-of-institution approach to prevention education is essential to dismantling harmful attitudes and changing behaviour.

I Have The Right To actively debunks harmful myths in its education activities. One of the messages they continue to get across to people is that:

You are 8 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than to be falsely accused of sexual assault.

False accusations of sexual assault are extremely rare despite it being a common misconception that many people hold. Myths like this are often reinforced by institutions in how they treat victim-survivors and activists who speak out against the horrors of what happens within their institution’s walls. When institutions silence victim-survivors and/or refuse to address the problem of sexual violence, they contribute to the stigma of sexual violence that allows these sorts of myths to survive.

Susan and Alexander also speak about the experiences of victim-survivors, drawing on Chessy’s experience (which you can read about in her memoir, I Have The Right To; A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice and Hope).

One of their key messages is that:

Most survivors don’t speak up, and when they do they get silenced.

The silencing of victim-survivors manifests in many ways. In a school or university system, silencing tends to be facilitated by senior leaders who run these institutions and who have connections with powerful people in the community. This results in victim-survivors being mistreated, myths and misconceptions being allowed to flourish, and other victim-survivors feeling unable to speak out at all.

Chessy experienced not only sexual violence, but also years of going through the criminal justice system, being bullied by people around her, and then going through a civil process. What was so horrible about this is how institutional leaders sought to silence Chessy rather than supporting her. This institutional betrayal Chessy experienced from the school at which her assault took place is an unacceptably common experience for victim-survivors who experience violence within an institutional setting.

The reality is that:

There is a whole industry with its sole purpose to steamroll the survivor into silence as a financial exercise. For them, ‘it’s cheaper to steamroll’.

This ‘steamrolling’ into silence is what drives Susan and Alexander to use their voices, and amplify the voices of others, to speak louder than ever before.

Susan and Alexander are creating a collective voice to restore power to individuals and communities following assault. Their call to action is that we all need to work together to create an ecosystem for good. I couldn’t agree more.

In solidarity,

Camille Schloeffel

Camille Schloeffel | Churchill Fellow

Camille (@camille.schloeffel) • Instagram photos and videos

Camille Schloeffel – Project Coordinator – Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT | LinkedIn

References / Learn more:

Michigan State investigation finds Mel Tucker sexually harassed rape survivor

October 25, 2023

By Kenny Jacoby
USA Today
6 min read

Former Michigan State University football coach Mel Tucker has been found responsible for violating the school’s sexual harassment policy – a huge victory for the woman who accused him, prominent rape survivor and activist Brenda Tracy, and a permanent stain on the reputation of one of the nation’s highest-paid coaches.

Secondary Victimization

October 18, 2023

By: Anonymous
3 min read

After reporting my sexual assault to law enforcement, everyone in my community found out what had been done to me. This was, of course, the opposite of what I wanted, but I was hopeful that I would finally feel embraced and supported by my peers and community.

That is not what happened.

After Changing The School Curriculum, Chanel Contos Wants To Challenge The Script Around Masculinity

October 13, 2023

By Keryn Donnelly
4 min read

Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault in a way that may be distressing to some readers

In February 2021, Chanel Contos posted an Instagram story that has led to a movement which is changing the conversation around consent in Australia.

Tell Netflix: Be in Solidarity with Survivors

September 29, 2023

By We Are Ultraviolet

The petition to Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, reads:

Netflix must remove Russell Brand’s specials, movies, and other content from its streaming services globally. Netflix has a long and horrible history of platforming rapists and misogynists. From Louis C.K. to Dave Chapelle, and now Russell Brand, Netflix has shown us time and time again that it prioritizes profit and abuse over women, survivors and their customers. It’s time for Netflix to change!

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker accused of sexually harassing rape survivor

September 28, 2023

By Kenny Jacoby
USA Today

Brenda Tracy, a prominent rape survivor and activist, says Mel Tucker made sexual comments and masturbated without consent during a phone call. Her complaint led to an ongoing Title IX investigation.

Michigan State fires football coach Mel Tucker in stunning fall from elite coaching ranks

September 28, 2023

By Kenny Jacoby and Matt Mencarini
USA Today

Michigan State University fired head football coach Mel Tucker for inappropriate conduct on Wednesday, a stunning fall for one of the highest-paid coaches in college sports, who signed a record 10-year, $95 million contract less than two years ago.

The Cost of Sexual Assault

September 27, 2023

By Brylie Turk
4 min read

Sexual assault can have far-reaching consequences for survivors; in addition to the psychological and emotional toll, sexual assault can have a significant financial impact of survivors, resulting in a public health crisis and affecting society as a whole.

DARVO: A Sinister Silencing Tactic

September 13, 2023

By Brylie Turk
4 min read
DARVO is a tactic used by perpetrators, individuals, and institutions alike to silence and shame victims. The phrase, coined by Jennifer Freyd, an American researcher, author, and educator, is an acronym for “Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim-Offender Roles.” The good news? The greater the public awareness of DARVO, the less effective it becomes.

100 Million Strong

September 12, 2023

By Brylie Turk
1 min read

Be sure to check out 100 Million Strong: The Incredible Work of the I Have The Right To Organization (Breaking Silence: Season 3: Episode 1) wherever you get your podcasts!

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