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Addressing the Full Spectrum of Sexual Violence in SARTs

You’re probably looking at that title and thinking, “Whoa, Ganz. What’s this full spectrum concept?” Or you might be thinking of a line that looks like this:

Image result for line with arrows on end

Think of the spectrum of sexual violence as overlapping bubbles. Because sexual violence takes a lot of shapes and forms. It looks different in every context. Here’s an idea of what that might look like:

Spectrum of Violence for Blog
Spectrum of Sexual Violence

There are overlaps in each and some violence is distinct from others. Think of visual as all that can be seen; for instance: pornography, image exploitation (revenge porn), flashing. Verbal is sexual violence through communication; examples might be street harassment/cat calling, sexting, name calling, or crude/demeaning jokes. Physical is anything that includes touching of physical bodies, by any other object or person. There can be overlap among only two or all three areas. Sexual violence is a more all-encompassing term and the spectrum really gets to the heart of rape culture.  Helping your team to understand the whole range of behaviors that affect victim/survivors can assist in addressing sexual violence holistically in the community.

It’s easy for folks to focus in on one type of sexual violence over any other. Some communities prioritize sexual violence against children, some focus on assaults by strangers, some focus on other types. However, in your Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), I want to encourage you to get your team thinking broadly about how to handle the many types and contexts of sexual violence that happens in your community. This is easier said than done, but it is a necessary shift if we want to reach the most marginalized victim/survivors in our communities.

If you have thoughts, questions, or comments on this blog, leave them in the comments!