Rape. Fed by the silence that each of us allows to happen around it, rape is an obscenity with no place in society.
This posting is to let people know about a fantastic new campaign by Police Scotland designed to mobilise men to stop rape by encouraging bystanders to speak up, by increasing awareness, and by hoping to change definitions of masculinity such that rape and sexualised violence are not a part of it.
The programme is based on the bystander, or ’empowered bystander’, approach to sexual and relationship violence prevention. This approach works on the social psychological principle of the bystander effect, or bystander apathy, that acts happen to other people because those around say nothing. The bystander effect means that nobody raises a voiuce to stop a bad behaviour, the behaviour will not stop. And others will be equally afriad to say something. The bystander approach – providing vital breakthroughs in hard-to-reach areas such as domestic violence, bullying, homophobia, racism, and sexism – works to defeat this mechanism by encouraging people to raise their voices. To simply say ‘stop it’ or ‘no’, or ‘that is not okay’, when they witness bad behaviour. The importance of this approach is that raising voices helps to give others voice. The empowered bystander, the one willing to yell ‘stop it’ when they see an act of violence, gives courage to others to also speak, and to act.
So, rather than focusing on men as potential perpetrators of violence, or women as victims or potential targets of abuse, the focus is all men and women as empowered bystanders who intervene in the face of abusive or harassing behavior, as well as provide support and assistance to their peers.
(For more on the bystander approach, and how it works, read here: http://www.ncdsv.org/images/Sex%20Violence%20Prevention%20through%20Bystander%20Education.pdf)
(For a gob-smacking example of the bystander approach in action in an anti-bullying campaign: http://www.upworthy.com/she-gives-the-bullies-a-few-seconds-then-stops-them-cold
What this means in effect is that every man and woman is an actor in stopping rape and sexual violence, principally by saying a behaviour is not okay, by calling someone else out on it and objecting to the behaviour. The very act of ‘saying it’ makes others feel as though they have more power, more ‘right’, to also say something.
Remember: Silence is complicity. Silence is the primordial swamp within which bad behaviours breed.
End the silence.
We are all EMPOWERED BYSTANDERS to rape and other forms of violence against women and can act to stop it.
See the campaign images below, and for more, follow this link to the Police Scotland campaign website: http://www.wecanstopit.co.uk/