Beyond the Breakthrough: Highlights from the 2019 National Sexual Assault Conference

The theme of the 2019 National Sexual Assault Conference—Beyond the Breakthrough—sought to inspire the collective movement to end sexual violence and build on the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Ms. was the media sponsor for the conference—and expanded the discussions happening on-site with this dedicated series. Click here to read more posts. You can also watch interviews and conference sessions from #NSAC2019 on the Ms. Facebook!


Last week, over 1,700 advocates, practitioners and public figures working to end sexual violence came together in Philadelphia—now re-dubbed “the city of consensual brotherly love”—to forge a new path forward in their movement.

In the wake of #MeToo, speakers and workshop leaders agreed, it is time to push beyond the breakthrough, and leverage this current moment for long-term change. Attendees alike also agreed that the moment is ripe for trying something new—for taking stock of what worked and what didn’t and being honest about what changes are in order to end sexual violence in a generation.

Ms. was the proud media sponsor of the conference, live-streaming sessions and sitting down with experts in the exhibition hall to envision the next steps for a renewed fight to end violence. Below, I’ll recap all we learned—and what comes next.

Wednesday, August 21

The 2019 National Sexual Assault Conference kicked off with a plenary session focused on the crux of the #MeToo movement’s viral moment in 2017: how rape culture takes shape in the workplace, and how corporate leaders can challenge it. Tina Tchen, former Director of the White House Council on Women & Girls and a co-founder of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, joined Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West, also an Obama administration alum from the Department of Justice, and Monika Jones Hostler, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault and founding RALIANCE partner, for a wide-ranging conversation about corporate accountability and changing workplace culture.

We're LIVE at the 2019 National Sexual Assault Conference! Tune in for the opening plenary, featuring RALIANCE founding partner Monika Johnson Hostler, Uber VP Tony West and Time's Up Legal Defense Fund co-founder Tina Tchen talking about leveraging corporate power to challenge rape culture.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Tchen, West and Hostler joined me afterward to continue the conversation with a live interview—in which they laid out some concrete steps advocates and non-profits can take to foster partnerships with corporations invested in doing better.

LIVE Q&A: Tina Tchen, Tony West and Monika Hostler on Corporate Courage in the Fight to End Sexual Violence

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios continued the #NSAC2019 opening conversation on corporate work to end violence and sat down with Uber VP Tony West, Time's Up LDF co-founder Tina Tchen and RALIANCE founding partner Monika Hostler to talk more about the power of partnerships in the fight to end workplace violence.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

That first plenary also featured a performance from feminist poet Ursula Rucker, who read her piece L.O.V.E. on stage. She opened up to Ms. before the conference about what it meant for her to be in the room—but after she’d had the chance to take the stage, she also made time to catch up with us in the exhibition hall and envision a world where love and compassion were more powerful than violence.

Ursula Rucker on Going Beyond the Breakthrough—with L.O.V.E.

Ursula Rucker talked to Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios after her performance at #NSAC2019 about what being at the conference means to her. Read the Ms. Q&A with Ursula here: https://msmagazine.com/2019/08/19/how-ursula-rucker-goes-beyond-the-breakthrough/

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

That kicked off a full day of live interviews with advocates, experts and educators focused not just on changing corporate rape culture, but on shifting their own movement to end violence—and demanding better from every institution that protects perpetrators and excuses sexual violence.


Ignacio Rivera—activist, writer, educator, sex(ual) healer, filmmaker, performance artist, mother and abueli—took some time to talk to Ms. about their organization, The HEAL Project, and how holistic sexuality information could be a major tool for preventing, interrupting and ending child sexual abuse. 

What Going Beyond the Breakthrough Means for Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios talked to Ignacio Rivera of the The HEAL Project about what needs to change in the culture-at-large order for childhood sexual abuse to end—and how the movement against violence can make it happen.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Devin Rojas, the Capacity Building Specialist at the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, took a minute with me to break down the findings of their recent statewide hotline audit—and boast about the action that advocates in the Garden State are taking to improve these pivotal resources.

Beyond the Breakthrough: Inside NJCASA's Sexual Assault Hotline Audit

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with Devin Rojas from the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault at #NSAC2019 to talk about their recent statewide sexual assault hotline audit, and how to advance survivor services beyond the breakthrough.Read the NJCASA audit: https://njcasa.org/news/statewide-audit-of-sexual-assault-examination-process-finds-need-for-reform/

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Holly Rider Milkovich, who spoke to me last year about her work as Senior Prevention Director at EVERFI, came back for a second go this year—and brought with her Elizabeth Billie, whose work there focuses on programs to disrupt and end campus sexual violence specifically. Together, they shared strategies with our viewers about ending harassment and violence in different workplaces—including on campus and in corporate suites.

How Everfi is Going Beyond the Breakthrough to End Workplace Sexual Harassment

Holly Rider-Milkovich and Elizabeth Billie from EVERFI talked to Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios at #NSAC2019 about their work to end workplace sexual violence—on campus and in corporate culture.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Tara Graham from Just Detention International came by next—and talked about what survivors in confinement face and what the movement to end violence can and should do to advance the baseline standards in place to protect them.

Going Beyond the Breakthrough to Support Incarcerated Survivors

Tara Graham from Just Detention International sat down with Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios to talk about how the movement to end violence can better support survivors in confinement, and what breakthroughs incarcerated women are still waiting for.Learn more about PREA and supporting incarcerated survivors: https://msmagazine.com/2019/08/21/beyond-the-breakthrough-providing-all-survivors-with-access-to-justice/

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Terri Poore, who has worked with the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence on federal policy and appropriations related to sexual assault for almost 15 years, first as a board member and now as the Policy Director, and previously worked at the National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence for 13 years, provided us with an insight into the difference between “feel good” sexual assault prevention policies and the kinds of laws that make a real impact—and what activists can do to tell the difference and fight for tangible change.

Anti-Violence Policies That Go Beyond the Breakthrough

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with National Alliance to End Sexual Violence policy director Terri Poore to discuss what the legal landscape facing survivors looks like, and how lawmakers can do better by them, at #NSAC2019.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Christina Presenti and Diane Daiber from the International Association of Forensic Nurses also made time on Wednesday to talk with Ms.—and expanded on the ways in which forensic nurses can make a huge difference in shifting culture as well as improving the individual experiences of survivors across the country. (Diane talked a bit during our interview about going “beyond the rape kit”—which she also wrote about for Ms. before NSAC.)

How Forensic Nurses Can Take the Fight to End Violence Beyond the Breakthrough

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with Christina Presenti and Diane Daiber from the International Association of Forensic Nurses to talk about how nurses can better serve survivors—and shift culture with care.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

We ended the day on the right note with Fiona Oliphant and Jessica Li from Healing Equity United—who laid out some radical self-care strategies and challenged all of us in the movement to do better by ourselves and each other. (Jessica wrote about radical self-care for Ms. before the conference, and Fiona wrote about the basics of cultural humility.)

Cultural Humility, Radical Self-Care and Building an Intersectional Movement to End Violence

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios talked to Fiona Oliphant and Jessica Li, co-founders of Healing Equity United, about the urgency for new models to do anti-violence work—and the dismantling of ones in place that has to come first.Read Fiona's piece on cultural humility: https://msmagazine.com/2019/08/14/beyond-the-breakthrough-why-cultural-humility-matters-in-anti-violence-work/Read Jessica's piece on radical self-care: https://msmagazine.com/2019/08/12/beyond-the-breakthrough-radical-self-care-in-the-fight-to-end-sexual-violence/

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2019

Thursday, August 22

Thursday got off to an early and education start when Julie Germann, a former prosecutor who now works through Finding the Right to train law enforcement officials on how to seek justice for survivors, explained what going beyond the breakthrough required from folks who work in the courtroom and the criminal justice system.

Moving Beyond the Breakthrough in Court—and Seeking Justice for Survivors

Julie Germann, co-founder of Finding the Right, talked to Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios about her work to fix the broken justice system—from the inside.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

That conversation continued when Jessica Mindlin, the National Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Victim Rights Law Center, elaborated on the work she does to train folks who engage with survivors—including law enforcement officials, prosecutors, advocates and health care workers.

Moving Beyond the Breakthrough in Every Sector to Support Survivors

Jessica Mindlin is the National Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Victim Rights Law Center—and has trained thousands of advocates, lawyers and care providers interested in doing better by survivors. She sat down with Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios to talk about the best practices she recommends across sectors and what progress is possible after #MeToo at #NSAC2019.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

We explored a different conversation about accountability when filmmaker, lecturer and writer Aishah Shahidah Simmons sat down for a Q&A about her new anthology, Love With Accountability, and her upcoming #FromNoToLove conference—both efforts that center a black feminist framework for addressing sexual violence.

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with black, queer feminist filmmaker, writer, activist and lecturer Aishah Simmons at #NSAC2019 to talk about her new anthology, Love WITH Accountability, and her upcoming conference on black feminist responses to sexual violence.Click here to RSVP for Aishah's #FromNOtoLove conference: http://lovewithaccountability.com/fromno2love

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

Tricia Banks Russell, Executive Director of From Fear to Freedom, sat down with us next—and talked about their model of providing survivor resources and engaging campus communities against violence at the same time.

Moving Beyond the Breakthrough from Fear to Freedom

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with the Executive Director of Fear 2 Freedom to talk about their work engaging college students in supporting survivors at #NSAC2019.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

We swung back to conversations about policy and law when District Attorney Kevin Steele and two attorneys from the case he prosecuted against Bill Cosby joined us next. Steele, Stewart Ryan and Kristen Feden all opened up about the power of holding the powerful accountable—and how they make it possible.

Going Beyond the Breakthrough Means Holding the Powerful Accountable

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with the prosecutors who represented a survivor in a case against Bill Cosby—and won. Together, they talked about what a trauma-informed legal process can look like.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

Luz Marquez Benbow joined us next to tell her own stories from the frontlines—and stress the importance of survivor leadership from the intersections in the fight to end violence.

How Intersectional Survivor Leadership Can Take the Movement Beyond the Breakthrough

Luz Marquez Benbow has been fighting for survivors at the margins for decades. Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with her at #NSAC2019 to discuss her groundbreaking work to create funding streams for organizations serving survivors of color and the necessity of survivor leadership.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

To that end, Nina Jusuf joined us next, sitting down at the Ms. booth to talk about co-founding the National Organization of Asian Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence, the first organization centered on API survivors in the country.

Going Beyond the Breakthrough for API Survivors

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios talked to Nina Jusuf, co-founder of the National Organization of Asian Pacific Islander Ending Sexual Violence, at #NSAC2019 about her groundbreaking work to serve API survivors—and what needs to come next.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

Victoria Dickman-Burnett, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati and a youth educator, helped connect all of these conversations when she broke down the basics of action research, and the difference it makes in the movement when advocates let survivors speak for themselves.

How Action Research Can Take the Anti-Violence Movement Beyond the Breakthrough

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios talked to Victoria L. Dickman-Burnett, a PhD Candidate in Education and Community-Based Action Research at the University of Cincinnati and a youth educator working to end violence, about how action research could help the movement go beyond the breakthrough at #NSAC2019.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

We took a pause then for the afternoon plenary—in which NPR reporter Joe Shapiro took the stage with advocates Debra Robinson and Carolyn Morgan to talk about sexual violence against folks with intellectual disabilities and the urgency of their own leadership in this space.

#NSAC2019: Building Community Courage Plenary

The second #NSAC2019 plenary featured NPR’s Joe Shapiro in conversation with activists Debra Robinson and Carolyn Morgan about disability rights in the fight to end violence.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

Joe also joined us offstage for a follow-up conversation about his work covering people with disabilities, and his groundbreaking series of reports on sexual violence on campus and in the disability community. (He wrote about that experience, too, for our Beyond the Breakthrough series.)

Taking the Fight for Disabled Survivors Beyond the Breakthrough

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios talked to NPR reporter Joe Shapiro after his #NSAC2019 plenary conversation around disability and sexual assault about what needs to happen next.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

We closed off the day with an informal self-defense lesson from Lauren Taylor, founder and director of Defend Yourself, an empowerment self-defense organization teaching people of all identities to raise their voices and reclaim their power. (She’s written about her work before for Ms.—check it out!)

Self-Defense Beyond the Breakthrough

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios talked to Lauren Taylor from Defend Yourself about the power of feminist self-defense—and got some hands-on practice herself.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Jueves, 22 de agosto de 2019

Friday, August 23

On the last day of the Conference, I took to that plenary stage myself—and talked to “Surviving R. Kelly” producer and showrunner, dream hampton, about community accountability, black feminism in the fight to end violence and the impact of her groundbreaking Lifetime series.

The Ms. LIVE Q&A: dream hampton on #SurvivingRKelly and Going Beyond the Breakthrough

#NSAC2019 closed out with a conversation between #SurvivingRKelly filmmaker dream hampton and Ms. Magazine Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios about black feminism in the fight to end violence and what community justice could look like in the era of #MeToo.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Viernes, 23 de agosto de 2019

That plenary kicked off with a performance by LaTreice Branson, who proudly Drums Like a Lady. Afterward, she opened up about the incredible opportunity to take that stage, and how it’s already impacting her work.

Drumming Beyond the Breakthrough—Like a Lady

Ms. Managing Digital Editor Carmen Rios sat down with Latreice Branson, from Drum Like A Lady—who shook up the final #NSAC2019 plenary—to talk about finding joy in the fight to end violence and the power of making more noise.

Publicado por Ms. Magazine en Viernes, 23 de agosto de 2019

That marked the end of the Conference—but not the end of this fight, or of these conversations. You can explore more in our Beyond the Breakthrough archives.

About

Carmen Rios is the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. and has spent over a decade raising hell in feminist media. Her work has been published by outlets like the Atlantic's CityLab, BuzzFeed, ElixHER, Feministing, Girlboss, Mic, MEL and Everyday Feminism; and she also spent six years writing and editing for Autostraddle, was a founding blogger and activist with the SPARK Movement and was the inaugural managing editor of THE LINE Campaign blog. Carmen is additionally a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine.