The good, the bad and the ugly of sexual assault campaigns

Sexual assault is a prominent issue in society with victims not speaking out about it and perpetrators not understanding the definition of rape. There have been numerous campaigns tailored towards the issue of sexual abuse which have mixed reviews by many and here we will review three campaigns which particularly stood out.

Sussex Police Rape Poster:

police rape campaign

A police campaign in Sussex which intended to combat the issue of sexual assault has in fact been strongly criticised for signifying that rape is the victim’s liability. The campaign asks the question “which one of your mates is the most vulnerable on a night out?” and then goes on to answer “the one you leave behind. Many sexual assaults could be prevented. Stick together and don’t let your friend leave with a stranger or go off on their own.”

Victim blaming is common in today’s society especially regarding the issue of sexual assault and although this poster had good intentions, it must be prioritised to spread the knowledge that it is never the victims fault. This particular poster conforms to the tradition of sexual assault campaigns always being targeted towards the victim and prospective victims rather than those who really have the control to avoid it – the perpetrators.

Victims need to be encouraged to speak out but after seeing posters like this portraying victim blaming are they really going to want to speak about it? Why not target men with messages about consent?

Don’t be that guy campaign:

dont be that guy campaign

Unlike the previous campaign, this campaign aims to target young men by showing them that sexual assault is never okay no matter how much a girl has had to drink. The campaign also persists to contest the myth that sexual assault is committed by stereotypical bad guys in dark alleyways by illustrating that it generally occurs between two people who know each other and hence targets issues of consent and alcohol abuse.

Posters with provocative imagery such as passed out young women were disseminated throughout college campuses in the US and advertisements were displayed on busses and television.

This campaign was a great effort to move away from victim blaming by changing the focus of sexual assault messages from women’s behaviour to men’s.

Project Unbreakable:

project unbreakable

Grace Brown, founder of Project Unbreakable, aspired to depict a touching and heart wenching story of survival for sexual assault victims. The project involves a compilation of photographs which each feature a sexual assault victim holding a poster with a quote from their attacker.

With more than 2000 photographs being exposed, this project is like no other as it is not only aiming to prevent it but also generates awareness of the diverse issues surrounding sexual assault. It is helping victims to improve by empowering other victims to come forward and share their stories.

Which campaign do you believe to be most effective?
-CD

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