It’s tough to talk about sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. Despite our best efforts, sometimes prevention gets lost in translation.
Once they get engaged, it’s easy for people to understand the individual actions they can take to be a better bystander, take personal responsibility, participate in self-defense classes or have one-on-one conversations about actions and behaviors. But prevention must go beyond education and individual behavior change. We don’t live in a vacuum: We’re connected to groups, communities, organizations and institutions, and these structures have the power to create safe environments and help change the way our society views sexual violence and our responsibility to prevent it.
Efforts to prevent and stop sexual violence are underway in communities across the country—and while it’s not always clear that our small actions can result in big cultural changes, prevention is possible, and it’s happening. Talking about the progress we have made is also challenging—and that’s why RALIANCE teamed up with the Berkeley Media Studies Group to release a new report to guide individuals on how to talk about prevention.
Here are four key highlights.
#1: Messages are never first.
The first step is knowing what you want to change, how to change it and why it needs to be changed. Your mission comes before your message—then you dig in to expressing it.
#2: Messages have to be flexible.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to a strategic communications plan—from the specific strategy, to messenger and audience. All of this is also set against a political or cultural backdrop that changes.
#3: Your messenger is just as important as your message.
For a messenger to be persuasive, the audience has to identify with and trust them. (General rules for the road? Speak plainly and think about word choices and lingo. Focus on conduct, not character when talking about people who commit sexual abuse and assault.)
Ready for a test drive? Learn more about simple tips and tools in the messaging guide. Be a part of ending sexual violence in one generation! It’s on all of us to make prevention understandable.