Sexual Violence: Innovative models

Innovative Models, Innovative Models — By on February 1, 2011 12:08 am

The Taskforce has worked to identify innovative strategies to end sexual violence against girls & young women.  Here are some ideas that you can use in your own community.


Sexuality Health Education to End Rape (SHEER) is a survivor centered, sex positive, pro-consent collective formed to prevent sexual assault, fight rape culture, and to address myths about rape by promoting an affirmative consent standard as the cornerstone of healthy sexual interactions. SHEER seeks to grow the movement past the simplified “no means no” ideal and name sexuality as complicated and necessary to talk about. We believe that if sexual health education is inclusive of pleasure, desire, and enthusiastic consent, then rape prevention and sexual health education become one and the same.

SHEER currently operates through community based education- where we hold public events in spaces not typically used for sexual education, to facilitate dialogue and provide resources to community members. We see it as a way to bring sexual health conversations to places beyond our schools, as it is one of the vital steps in growing our movement in thoughtful, responsible, and intentional ways.

For a dose of SHEER style community education, click the second audio link here to hear member Meghan Pergrem talking about SHEER and rape culture on the radio.


In November 2010, a 45-year old woman was sexually assaulted at gunpoint by four teenage boys in front of her two children in the Powderhorn community in Minneapolis. In response, the community came together for a rally, supporting her family and reclaiming the community.  You can read about the community here.

Many were inspired by the survivor’s reliance on principles of transformative justice.  She posted a statement online, including these words:

I really have a huge repulsion at the labeling of us as victims.  I see us as strong and capable of taking charge of our safety….  I find it ironic to have had this experience as I currently study nonviolence, restorative justice and the healing of childhood trauma.  I got to put my studies and my practice of mindfulness into play as the incident unfolded.  The whole time I made a conscious choice to see the boys as human beings, not to see them as evil or bad.  I focus my attention not on the boys’ actions but the pain behind their actions.  I see those boys as hurting, scared children who didn’t get the kind of nurture, love and care that they needed.  I try to hold them now in compassion and hope that they might get the support they need to reconnect to their essential goodness.


Ending the Generational Cycle of  AbuseAt the Taskforce Roundtable on Sexual Violence, we held a discussion about the need to have alternative sites for young women to receive support.  One way to do this is to create community-based support groups.  A second way that our members discussed is to create a mobile, traveling unit that would provide counseling and support.  We were encouraged to read about a program called Have Justice Will Travel, from which we take inspiration.  As founder Wynona Ward explained to CNN:

They’re out there on these back roads, with no access to in-town services. … So we go to them.

Girls in Chicago are isolated in different ways – through feeling shame, through silencing, and sometimes through lack of support in the institutions they rely upon.  This idea of traveling units appealed to members of the Taskforce as a potential solution.


The Girl/Friends Summer Institute, a program in the North Lawndale community organized by the organization A Long Walk Home, uses arts programming to engage youth in work to end sexual violence.  Girl/Friends is featured in one of our first Occasional Papers, and you can read more about their work here.