RESTON, VA -- Stop Street Harassment (SSH) and Defend Yourself are partnering with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to launch a gender-based street harassment national hotline in July 2016.
RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which provides confidential support those affected by sexual violence in both Spanish and English. The hotline is available via online chat and by phone 24-7. SSH and Defend Yourself will train RAINN staff who will be answering the National Street Harassment Hotline, to be equipped to help those calling about street harassment.
“We are thrilled about this new partnership and the ability to provide a safe space for those impacted by street harassment to receive help and appropriate resources,” said RAINN’s vice president for victim services, Jennifer Marsh.
Gender-based street harassment affects at least 65% of women and 25% of men in the USA, and it starts at a young age. It can range from catcalls and unwanted sexualized and homophobic comments to illegal acts like following, flashing, groping and sexual assault.
“Until now, there has not been a go-to place for people facing gender-based street harassment to find help. They want to know things like how to respond if they’re harassed, what their rights are under the law, or to generally receive emotional support,” said Holly Kearl, founder of SSH. “SSH is so pleased to be partnering with these two organizations to create that system of support.”
A growing body of research shows that street harassment negatively impacts women emotionally. It can be traumatic for them, especially for survivors of sexual abuse. “Mild” street harassment can escalate into physical harassment without warning and many women and some men have an underlying fear that verbal harassment will become physical. In January 2016, there were two cases – in Texas and Pennsylvania -- of street harassment escalating into murder. In late March 2016, a mother in California was shot in the stomach by street harassers whom she confronted for harassing her teenage daughter.
“Harassment is so pervasive, and it does so much damage to the lives of women and LGBTQ people,” says Lauren R. Taylor, founder and director of Defend Yourself. “Support can mean so much. We hope to empower people by sharing skills -- and increasing options -- for dealing with harassment in public spaces.”
Defend Yourself teaches skills for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault. It works to empower people -- especially women and LGBTQ people – to end violence and create a world where they can be fully themselves
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and carries out programs to educate the public about sexual violence and improve the criminal justice system.
Stop Street Harassment is a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide through public education and community mobilization.