Preventionista Travel Log: NSAC in Chicago

Chicago skyline at duskWhat a pleasure it was to spend last week at the National Sexual Assault Conference in beautiful Chicago! It was a busy time, starting with the RPE Grantee meeting early in the week and then the NSAC. I was so inspired by the keynote message from Cassandra Thomas of the Houston Area Women’s Center, who spoke about the need to revive our anger about sexual violence and make a serious commitment to its prevention. After being inspired by Cassandra, I then had the pleasure of attending a workshop on The Evolution of Prevention led by our partners at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. It was refreshing to see the strides we have made as a movement towards eliminating sexual violence. 

And it was inspiring to see so much of our prevention work tied together.  Early in the week I delivered a presentation to RPE Grantees on the NSVRC's Innovations in Prevention report.  When I heard both the keynote and workshop presentations, I couldn't help but notice how much they echoed the key findings from that report.  Cassandra talked about really needing to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.  Organizations need to care as much about prevention as intervention, and that should be reflected in their budgets as well.  The interviews that were done with innovative programs clearly stated that very same thing.  Those programs are successful because there is a deep commitment, including a deep fiscal commitment, to keeping prevention at the core of what they do.  In the workshop, it was mentioned that sometimes you have to sit through a lot of community and school meetings about issues that are not related to sexual violence, in order to get your foot in the door and build those relationships.  You may have to sit through an entire meeting about the school's bake sale policy, but the key is that you are there.  Doing community mobilization work sometimes means taking the time to be a participant in the community.  Again, this tied in so well with the findings in our Innovations report.  One thing that was clear for those programs was that community mobilization is about serving other’s needs - attending meetings of other organizations, supporting other organizations efforts on their own issues, and infusing prevention thinking in the work of others. 

There were so many other snippets seen and heard last week that really helped to reassure me that we are on the right track as we move prevention forward.  I hope to share other lessons learned over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I encourage you to read the Innovations report if you have not already.  Then, use the comment box below to share the innovative ways that you or your agency are approaching sexual violence prevention work.