We have been awarded funding to carry out some exploratory work which asks the question, how can we improve the way sexual abuse is reported in the media? The project will explore ways to improve the way the UK media talks about sexual violence, sexual and domestic abuse, through bringing media influencers together with people whose voices are rarely heard – those with first-hand knowledge of the issues.
We know that there is a correlation between how many convictions are successfully brought about and the way jurors and prosecutors understand sexual abuse, victims and perpetrators. The media have a role to play in shaping how we understand these issues. The aim is to debunk the myths and stereotypes of the media narrative and replace them with a ‘new common sense’ based on the reality of people’s experience. The long term goal is a more sophisticated understanding and informed discussions of sexual and domestic violence and abuse in society as a whole, and thus to greater justice in our courts.
We have been developing partnerships with individuals and organisations in the sector who might be interested in taking part in this project, and interactive activities commence in 2017. We are working in collaboration with Dr Nina Burrowes, a research psychologist that specialises in the psychology of sexual abuse. We are really excited to collaborate with her, and support her campaign The Consent Collective, as she has a huge amount of experience in this area and brings a vital creativity and curiosity around exploring new ways of bringing about positive change. She has also written and illustrated several books that help the public to understand abuse better.
Clear Lines Festival
In 2015, we sponsored and co-organised a 4-day festival called Clear Lines, that opened up a space to talk about sexual assault and consent. Every hour, the equivalent of one man and over ten women are raped in England and Wales. One in five girls and one in twelve boys will be sexually abused. So many of us are affected by sexual assault, and because it’s so difficult to talk about, we’re missing opportunities to get together and tackle the problem. The free event during the summer held a wide range of performances, workshops and panel discussions which explored creativity both as a therapeutic response and as an agent of change. Here’s a blog about the first festival of its kind.
In 2016 – 18, we will be holding several consultations, media “interactions”, media training and events, bringing together journalists, activists, broadcasters, sector practitioners, innovators and individuals affected by sexual abuse, sexual violence and domestic abuse. Please contact us if you would like to be involved.
What’s a media “interaction”?
An ‘interaction’ is a method for engagement we have developed over the last five years with our project All About Trans – which has increased the visibility of transgender people in the UK media. It is a relaxed, social meet-up between a senior media professional and someone with personal experience to share. The aim is that the personal connection will change attitudes and behaviour. The relationships created have led to consultations on scripts and storylines, the production of factual/fictional programming and off-screen opportunities. They have also led to more visible media appearances in broadcasting or print for activists.