Primary Prevention of Sexual Assault and Abuse – Position Statement

Primary Prevention of Sexual Assault and Abuse – Position Statement

New Logo with words and graphics

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault works to end all forms of sexual violence and exploitation by advocating for appropriate, effective crisis intervention and prevention approaches. We support efforts that prevent violence before it begins, by addressing risk factors of the perpetration of sexual violence at the individual, relational, community, and societal levels. We believe that sexual violence can be stopped by creating an environment that supports respectful behavior, gender equity, and non-violent social norms. We believe that dedication to programs that work towards this is crucial.  NYSCASA believes that prevention should focus on promoting healthy relationships, respect for all people, and equality across the gender, social, and economic spectrums. Sexual violence is rooted in oppression and the belief that one group of people deserves to have power over another group of people. Understanding all people as worthy of respect negates feelings of entitlement and superiority that permit a person to commit an act of sexual violence against another person.

NYSCASA believes that ending sexual violence is possible, but that it requires a societal shift in the norms we promote. We need to change the environment that currently allows sexual violence to occur. Our society perpetuates norms that support male superiority and sexual entitlement, and we have a high tolerance for violent acts and crimes. Combined with limited social and economic opportunities, weak sanctions against sexual violence, and a lack of supportive communities, these factors contribute to a toxic environment that can allow people to perpetrate sexual violence.

NYSCASA believes that this shift will occur if prevention efforts and non-violent norms are supported and reinforced on multiple levels. Young children should receive age-appropriate, culturally specific, evidence-based (appropriate and effective) messages in the classroom, and those messages about non-violence and respect should be reflected in the environment around them. Their interactions with the adults in their lives, such as teachers, coaches, community leaders, parents, and family members should mirror what they learn in school.  Since the laws and policies of a society send messages about what the people living under those policies should value, non-violence, respect and equality must be incorporated into our legal codes. The ideas behind thoughtful policies can only manifest and have a positive impact on the community if the people charged with upholding these policies also support and exhibit these values. Therefore, it is important that policy enforcers and community leaders understand and support non-violent norms as well.

NYSCASA believes that prevention efforts should be undertaken with the goal of minimizing the risk factors for perpetration, because sexual violence will only end when there are no longer people committing sexually violent acts. If individuals believe in respect, equality, and non-violence, and they interact with other people who share the same values, and those people live in a community that upholds laws and exhibits a low tolerance for violent behavior, the risk factors of perpetrating sexual violence are reduced greatly.

NYSCASA believes that funding for this work is critical, but that it must not be at the expense of funding for victim services. Sexual assault service providers respond to the needs of survivors, train professionals who interact with people who have experienced sexual violence, educate the community about the issues, provide outreach to promote the services they provide, and they do this important work of changing social norms and promoting non-violence in hopes that one day, no one will need their response services. The rape crisis programs and other organizations doing this work are frequently underfunded, understaffed, and overworked. Funding that will allow this work to continue and expand is necessary if we want to live in a world free from sexual violence.


Open Letter Regarding Violence Against Women of Color

Open Letter Regarding Violence Against Women of Color

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA), as an organization dedicated to advancing civil and human rights, eliminating gender-based violence, and advocating for survivors,expresses a collective outpouring of sorrow at the institutional violence against women of color and the lack of accountability. While we experience outrage at all violence, there continues to be disproportionate gender-based violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, state-sanctioned systemic violence and community violence against women of color.

As a part of the movement to end violence against women, NYSCASA must also acknowledge our complicity in a movement that too often fails to recognize that women of color started this movement. Women of color continue to make important contributions to this movement, and yet mainstream organizations engage in practices that exclude, discount, and silence women of color. White women must recognize the intersections of oppression and fight for racial justice under the leadership of women of color. Women of color and white women are sisters who must work together in our shared fight for justice.

As social media continues to expose the targeting of women of color and their communities, NYSCASA feels compelled to take an active stance. It is imperative that we link all forms of violence and intersections of oppression, and that we recognize how events are connected through systemic racial prejudice, stereotyping, and abuses of power. Recent events include:

  • Sandra Bland who was abused and injured by police and later found hung from her jail cell;
  • Sarah Lee Circle Bear who died after police failed to obtain medical treatment for her, instead jailing her for a minor offense;
  • young girls of color being violated by Texas police at a pool party;
  • institutional sexism and racism imposed upon the famous tennis player Serena Williams;
  • uneven application of the “Stand Your Ground” laws in cases such as that of Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Florida;
  • victim blaming in cases such as that of the Janay Rice and Ray Rice domestic violence incident in Baltimore, Maryland; or
  • the criminalization of survivors of intimate partner violence who act in self-defense

NYSCASA seeks to galvanize a collective voice in solidarity with those seeking justice for lives compromised, dehumanized, and lost due to institutional violence in all of our communities. We call upon individuals of all genders across communities to mobilize in instances such as the recent events. We collectively choose not to be silent, and we invite all organizations to learn how to support and give voice to those who have been victimized. We join communities of color in resisting violence and structures that—rather than heal marginalized communities—criminalize, wound, and silence women of color.

To that end, NYSCASA will collectively use all of our networks and outlets to raise our voices, bring attention to injustice, and work toward social change.

We hope you will join us in working to build inclusive gender and racial justice movements that intentionally work in the intersections and lift up the lives and experiences of girls and women of color.

What happened to Sandra Bland

Police ignored Native American woman, telling her to ‘quit faking’ as she died in jail cell

Cop pulls out gun on black teen in Texas pool party

When we attack Serena William’s body it is really about her blackness:

Stand your ground not applied to Marissa Alexander’s case

Why did Janay Rice Stay? 

Domestic violence and sexual assault are two of the most prevalent forms of gender-based violence


NYSCASA Open Letter Regarding Violence Against Women of Color (pdf)