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To prevent sexual assaults, Stanford pilots new program

Flip the Script gives women tools for identifying danger, acting quickly

In a room at Stanford University this summer, a group of undergraduate women watched a video of a man and a woman at a party. As the two move into a bedroom and things escalate sexually, the students were asked to call out warning signs as the situation became increasingly dangerous for the young woman.

The undergrads were participating in Flip the Script, a 12-hour interactive training that specifically teaches women how to respond to and prevent sexual assault, which is most often perpetrated by men they already know. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in four undergraduate women will experience sexual assault by the time they finish college.

In a field with little definitive evidence for what actually works to reduce sexual assault, Flip the Script has shown unusually encouraging results. A randomized controlled trial conducted in Canada found that women who completed the program were 46 percent less likely to be raped and 63 percent less likely to experience an attempted sexual assault.

Heartened by these results, Stanford School of Medicine researchers are piloting Flip the Script with small groups of undergraduate women, with the goal of eventually providing the training to all female students.

Flip the Script was developed by Charlene Senn, a psychology professor at the University of Windsor in Canada, in 2005. At the time, effective prevention efforts were few and far between and sexual violence rates committed by men against young women had remained "virtually unchanged," since the 1990s, she told the Weekly.

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She created what was then called the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act program, based on research on rape and prevention education that indicated a practical training focused on college-aged women, who are among the most at-risk populations for sexual assault, could be more effective than traditional university prevention programs.

"Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone you know and ... they occur in social situations that most people don't consider dangerous," Senn said. "The shock and disbelief and the questioning of our own perceptions in those situations is really common. Those completely normal reactions to those unexpected situations can interfere and delay our acknowledgment of the danger and therefore our action."

Senn studied the impact of the program on first-year women at three different Canadian universities, comparing their rates of rape and attempted sexual assault to those of a control group of female students who were instead shown brochures on sexual assault. Senn found that only 22 women would need to take the program in order to prevent one additional rape from occurring within one year of participation. The study also found that Flip the Script significantly reduced self-blame in women who were raped after participating.

When Senn's study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine three years ago, Stanford researchers Clea Sarnquist and Mike Baiocchi took notice. The two had been studying sexual-assault prevention among young girls in Kenya and saw remarkable similarities between their work and Senn's, including the nearly 50-percent reduction rate.

Seeing a "huge potential opportunity," they reached out to Carley Flanery, director of Stanford's Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response, known as the SARA office, to discuss bringing the program to campus, Sarnquist said. They successfully introduced it this spring and have been steadily recruiting female students, including transgender women, to participate in their own study of the program.

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Over the course of two days, trained facilitators, who are Stanford graduate students, lead women through the program's four units: assess, acknowledge, act, and sexuality and relationships. The first two units focus on problem-solving strategies that will help women assess the risk of sexual assault by an acquaintance and learn how to "more quickly acknowledge the danger in situations that have turned coercive," Senn's study states.

Junior Blessing Edem, who participated in Flip the Script this summer, found this portion the most impactful — the "everyday things that you should notice or little things you can do to avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations," she said, like a guy who isolates you at a party or insists on hanging out in a room with the door closed.

"Those things were the things that really stuck because it's easy to overlook them," Edem said.

In the second day, the students move to action — including three hours of self-defense instruction — and a deeper understanding of personal and sexual boundaries. The self-defense is not martial arts. The techniques, both verbal and physical, are designed to empower women, teaching that "feeling able to say 'no' and to say 'stop ... I don't want that,'" is its own defense mechanism, Flanery said. Students walk through different scenarios — being pinned up against a wall or walking alone at night — to learn how to get out of an uncomfortable or dangerous situation safely.

The facilitators "encouraged us, if we're faced against a predator who's larger than us, that we're still capable of defending ourselves," said sophomore Hannah Kukurugya, who works in the SARA office and took the training this summer. "It's definitely empowerment through force and not being afraid to react in a situation as well."

The final unit is meant to get everyone on the same page about basic sexuality. To help students think about their own boundaries and desires, they fill out a grid that lists people across the top (friend, significant other, stranger) and different intimate acts, from holding hands to sex.

"Foundationally connected to that, understanding my own desires, wants and needs is couched in your rights, your autonomy to your body and another person's and that when you're engaging with another person that they have those same rights as well," Flanery said.

Flip the Script's ultimate goal, as the name implies, is to help women challenge the gender-based stereotypes that are entangled in sexual violence, Senn said. Stanford's advertising flyer for the program lists some of the stereotypes women are subject to: "Don't be bossy," "Smile and look pretty," "Be a good girl," "Don't make a scene."

The program's creator and the Stanford researchers anticipate a perception that exclusively teaching women how to prevent sexual assault is a form of victim blaming (though that is the very script the program aims to flip). The program repeatedly emphasizes that sexual assault is never the victim's fault and facilitators are trained to confront that belief if it arises. Both Senn and the Stanford researchers emphasize that Flip the Script as one piece of a larger puzzle to prevent sexual violence, not a silver bullet.

Flip the Script's approach is necessary in today's climate, the Stanford researchers argued, when there is still no solid research on how to stop men from perpetrating sexual violence or on the efficacy of bystander training, a focus of many universities' prevention efforts.

Baiocchi compares sexual-assault prevention to an infectious disease program and likens Flip the Script to a vaccine women have to take.

Vaccines "do inflict a little bit of a burden on the person who's going to take the vaccine but usually the pay-off is large," he said. "That's kind of where we're at in the state of science for sexual-assault prevention. It looks like this is a pretty good vaccine, and it seems to be having a big effect."

Kukurugya, for her part, found the single-gender focus problematic. Flip the Script is beneficial, she said, but not in isolation.

"I think it is beneficial to both educate women and men," she said.

The SARA office is developing a similar training for men and male-identifying students, Kukurugya said. Stanford also requires incoming students to complete an online training on consent, bystander prevention and healthy relationships; and offers Beyond Sex Ed, during which upperclassmen share their own stories about intimacy, among other prevention programs.

Stanford is now offering Flip the Script, which is included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2016 sexual-violence prevention toolkit, as a one-unit course to encourage more participation. The researchers plan to follow participants through the end of their time at Stanford to evaluate the long-term impact. So far, 15 students have taken the training.

A small but growing number of colleges and universities have implemented Flip the Script, Senn said, including Florida Atlantic University and University of Iowa, at least five colleges in Canada and and others in Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Sarnquist attributed the small number of participating schools in the United States to cost, institutional support and awareness.

This summer, Edem said she left the weekend program wanting other women on campus to sign up.

"They made it point to give you things that were practical, so it didn't seem like you had to do something completely out of character to defend yourself," she said. "Hopefully it's not something you'll have to use but, just in case, I think it's a good thing to have in your tool belt."

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To prevent sexual assaults, Stanford pilots new program

Flip the Script gives women tools for identifying danger, acting quickly

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 6:21 am
Updated: Mon, Oct 29, 2018, 8:19 am

In a room at Stanford University this summer, a group of undergraduate women watched a video of a man and a woman at a party. As the two move into a bedroom and things escalate sexually, the students were asked to call out warning signs as the situation became increasingly dangerous for the young woman.

The undergrads were participating in Flip the Script, a 12-hour interactive training that specifically teaches women how to respond to and prevent sexual assault, which is most often perpetrated by men they already know. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in four undergraduate women will experience sexual assault by the time they finish college.

In a field with little definitive evidence for what actually works to reduce sexual assault, Flip the Script has shown unusually encouraging results. A randomized controlled trial conducted in Canada found that women who completed the program were 46 percent less likely to be raped and 63 percent less likely to experience an attempted sexual assault.

Heartened by these results, Stanford School of Medicine researchers are piloting Flip the Script with small groups of undergraduate women, with the goal of eventually providing the training to all female students.

Flip the Script was developed by Charlene Senn, a psychology professor at the University of Windsor in Canada, in 2005. At the time, effective prevention efforts were few and far between and sexual violence rates committed by men against young women had remained "virtually unchanged," since the 1990s, she told the Weekly.

She created what was then called the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act program, based on research on rape and prevention education that indicated a practical training focused on college-aged women, who are among the most at-risk populations for sexual assault, could be more effective than traditional university prevention programs.

"Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone you know and ... they occur in social situations that most people don't consider dangerous," Senn said. "The shock and disbelief and the questioning of our own perceptions in those situations is really common. Those completely normal reactions to those unexpected situations can interfere and delay our acknowledgment of the danger and therefore our action."

Senn studied the impact of the program on first-year women at three different Canadian universities, comparing their rates of rape and attempted sexual assault to those of a control group of female students who were instead shown brochures on sexual assault. Senn found that only 22 women would need to take the program in order to prevent one additional rape from occurring within one year of participation. The study also found that Flip the Script significantly reduced self-blame in women who were raped after participating.

When Senn's study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine three years ago, Stanford researchers Clea Sarnquist and Mike Baiocchi took notice. The two had been studying sexual-assault prevention among young girls in Kenya and saw remarkable similarities between their work and Senn's, including the nearly 50-percent reduction rate.

Seeing a "huge potential opportunity," they reached out to Carley Flanery, director of Stanford's Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response, known as the SARA office, to discuss bringing the program to campus, Sarnquist said. They successfully introduced it this spring and have been steadily recruiting female students, including transgender women, to participate in their own study of the program.

Over the course of two days, trained facilitators, who are Stanford graduate students, lead women through the program's four units: assess, acknowledge, act, and sexuality and relationships. The first two units focus on problem-solving strategies that will help women assess the risk of sexual assault by an acquaintance and learn how to "more quickly acknowledge the danger in situations that have turned coercive," Senn's study states.

Junior Blessing Edem, who participated in Flip the Script this summer, found this portion the most impactful — the "everyday things that you should notice or little things you can do to avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations," she said, like a guy who isolates you at a party or insists on hanging out in a room with the door closed.

"Those things were the things that really stuck because it's easy to overlook them," Edem said.

In the second day, the students move to action — including three hours of self-defense instruction — and a deeper understanding of personal and sexual boundaries. The self-defense is not martial arts. The techniques, both verbal and physical, are designed to empower women, teaching that "feeling able to say 'no' and to say 'stop ... I don't want that,'" is its own defense mechanism, Flanery said. Students walk through different scenarios — being pinned up against a wall or walking alone at night — to learn how to get out of an uncomfortable or dangerous situation safely.

The facilitators "encouraged us, if we're faced against a predator who's larger than us, that we're still capable of defending ourselves," said sophomore Hannah Kukurugya, who works in the SARA office and took the training this summer. "It's definitely empowerment through force and not being afraid to react in a situation as well."

The final unit is meant to get everyone on the same page about basic sexuality. To help students think about their own boundaries and desires, they fill out a grid that lists people across the top (friend, significant other, stranger) and different intimate acts, from holding hands to sex.

"Foundationally connected to that, understanding my own desires, wants and needs is couched in your rights, your autonomy to your body and another person's and that when you're engaging with another person that they have those same rights as well," Flanery said.

Flip the Script's ultimate goal, as the name implies, is to help women challenge the gender-based stereotypes that are entangled in sexual violence, Senn said. Stanford's advertising flyer for the program lists some of the stereotypes women are subject to: "Don't be bossy," "Smile and look pretty," "Be a good girl," "Don't make a scene."

The program's creator and the Stanford researchers anticipate a perception that exclusively teaching women how to prevent sexual assault is a form of victim blaming (though that is the very script the program aims to flip). The program repeatedly emphasizes that sexual assault is never the victim's fault and facilitators are trained to confront that belief if it arises. Both Senn and the Stanford researchers emphasize that Flip the Script as one piece of a larger puzzle to prevent sexual violence, not a silver bullet.

Flip the Script's approach is necessary in today's climate, the Stanford researchers argued, when there is still no solid research on how to stop men from perpetrating sexual violence or on the efficacy of bystander training, a focus of many universities' prevention efforts.

Baiocchi compares sexual-assault prevention to an infectious disease program and likens Flip the Script to a vaccine women have to take.

Vaccines "do inflict a little bit of a burden on the person who's going to take the vaccine but usually the pay-off is large," he said. "That's kind of where we're at in the state of science for sexual-assault prevention. It looks like this is a pretty good vaccine, and it seems to be having a big effect."

Kukurugya, for her part, found the single-gender focus problematic. Flip the Script is beneficial, she said, but not in isolation.

"I think it is beneficial to both educate women and men," she said.

The SARA office is developing a similar training for men and male-identifying students, Kukurugya said. Stanford also requires incoming students to complete an online training on consent, bystander prevention and healthy relationships; and offers Beyond Sex Ed, during which upperclassmen share their own stories about intimacy, among other prevention programs.

Stanford is now offering Flip the Script, which is included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2016 sexual-violence prevention toolkit, as a one-unit course to encourage more participation. The researchers plan to follow participants through the end of their time at Stanford to evaluate the long-term impact. So far, 15 students have taken the training.

A small but growing number of colleges and universities have implemented Flip the Script, Senn said, including Florida Atlantic University and University of Iowa, at least five colleges in Canada and and others in Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Sarnquist attributed the small number of participating schools in the United States to cost, institutional support and awareness.

This summer, Edem said she left the weekend program wanting other women on campus to sign up.

"They made it point to give you things that were practical, so it didn't seem like you had to do something completely out of character to defend yourself," she said. "Hopefully it's not something you'll have to use but, just in case, I think it's a good thing to have in your tool belt."

Comments

In A Pinch Self-Defense
College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2018 at 8:47 am
In A Pinch Self-Defense, College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

From the PA Weekly article...
"In the second day, the students move to action — including three hours of self-defense instruction...The self-defense is not martial arts."


While I am a firm believer in aikido (a defensive maneuvered martial art), for those women who do not have the time/energy to devote to learning it, here's a quick and easy self-defense move if your assailant is confronting you face to face...

(1) Drive a powerful blow with a clenched fist into your assailant's midsection. This will usually catch him off guard and knock the wind out of him. BE QUICK & USE FORCE.

(2) Next, drive your knee HARD and upwards into his groin section. This will cause the assailant excruciating pain and while he is doubled over...

(3) Run away and call 911.

I have used this technique twice and it prevented a sexual assault. The key is to apply the move quickly and with force. The essence of this self-defense maneuver is in its element of surprise and hopefully, you will never find yourself in a situation where you need to use it.

Also useful for adolescents in the event they encounter a pedophile.


Kick 'Em
Charleston Meadows
on Oct 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm
Kick 'Em, Charleston Meadows
on Oct 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm
Dilettante
Greenmeadow
on Oct 29, 2018 at 10:36 am
Dilettante , Greenmeadow
on Oct 29, 2018 at 10:36 am

Simple steps like enforcing liquor laws, limiting on-campus parties to registered students, limits on how late into the night a party can run, and more security around the dark perimeters of parties will certainly help reduce sexual assaults on campus.


CalAveLocal
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 29, 2018 at 12:41 pm
CalAveLocal, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2018 at 12:41 pm

This is great. Everyone should know some self defense. Where is the part of the program that teaches male college students not to assault their fellow female students? Or are we - once again - putting the responsibility for sexual assault and prevention of it on women. This is exhausting. Nothing is going to change until we start holding men accountable for their actions. Come on. Enough already! :(


PaloAltoPrevention
Stanford
on Oct 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm
PaloAltoPrevention, Stanford
on Oct 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm

If this pilot is centered around prevention--why isn't this focused on educating healthy relationships: (aka: Don't rape/Defining Consent)---on potential perpetrators; as opposed to centering it on defensive strategies for potential victims/survivors?


Dream On
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm
Dream On, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm

> ...why isn't this focused on educating healthy relationships: (aka: Don't rape/Defining Consent)---on potential perpetrators; as opposed to centering it on defensive strategies for potential victims/survivors?

An idealistic concept on your part but unrealistic at best as there will always be those who inflict hurt on others regardless of any coursework discouraging such actions.

Self-defense and awareness are the key elements to preventing personal violations.


Not so sure
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm
Not so sure, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm

> The program repeatedly emphasizes that sexual assault is never the victim's fault …

This is the fallacy of false dichotomies.

According to the article itself, the program is about taking responsibility for not putting yourself in dangerous situations. You go to bed with an interested man and don’t accept that that action contributed to putting yourself at risk if later you “feel” you never wanted to snuggle, kiss, or be sexual?

Blame is rarely 100% on one side in even simple human interactions. Even in a car accident where you are rear-ended, you are always assessed to see what “percentage” of the blame you may be said to have, e.g. if you didn’t start moving quickly enough after the light turned green or you were partially in another lane. Despite the common feminist dogma of victim blaming, sexual assault cases are assessed in this way too. Drinks consumed, whether you went into bed with the person, etc, are all taken into account - as they should be.

Men AND women should start taking responsibility for their actions, not just men! This means being mindful of the dynamics the article lays out, which are not far off from basic common sense. Stop infantalizing women in this patronizing way.

Sexual assaults or dates gone bad should NOT be seen as inherently worse than a whole host of other things humans, including many men, have to endure, e.g. sucking up to a tyrannical boss at work because you need to provide for the family, being bullied or ridiculed for being different, being beaten up on the playground, etc. Humans are wounded in all kinds of ways.


Dream On
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 29, 2018 at 2:51 pm
Dream On, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 29, 2018 at 2:51 pm

>> You go to bed with an interested man and don’t accept that that action contributed to putting yourself at risk if later you “feel” you never wanted to snuggle, kiss, or be sexual?

If a woman goes to bed with a man, it's a green light...especially if both are naked. Who gets naked in bed just to talk or commiserate about life?

On the other hand...if both still have their clothes on, it's another matter and subject to further scrutiny if a sexual assault is claimed (by either party).

If I were a judge (and I'm grateful that I'm not)...If a woman claimed sexual assault after having removed all of her clothing VOLUNTARILY and crawling into bed, I would simply toss the case out and reprimand her for 'playing games'. In addition, I would also suggest that she get some psychological counseling.

Now anything forced or coerced is another story.




Not so sure
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2018 at 3:43 pm
Not so sure, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2018 at 3:43 pm

@In A Pinch Self-Defense wrote:

> BE QUICK & USE FORCE.
>(Next, drive your knee HARD and upwards into his groin section. This will cause the assailant excruciating pain and while he is doubled over...

Care to also share how best to quickly damage the particular anatomy of a woman, if it's a woman who's the assailant? What part of a woman should be kicked to cause her maximum damage while you try to escape or call 911?

Or could someone else who's taken self-defense classes chime in?


Try to Be a Gentleman
another community
on Oct 29, 2018 at 5:52 pm
Try to Be a Gentleman, another community
on Oct 29, 2018 at 5:52 pm

>>> Care to also share how best to quickly damage the particular anatomy of a woman, if it's a woman who's the assailant? What part of a woman should be kicked to cause her maximum damage while you try to escape or call 911?

Men aren't supposed to hit women...at least that's what I was taught. On the other hand, my first boss once told me, "When a woman ceases to be a lady, I cease to be a gentleman."

In most cases, men tend to exceed women in overall size, weight and build. Are you creating a hypothetical scenario in which you are on a date (gone wrong) with a 235+ pound woman who is trying to have her way with you?

Having never experienced such a fate, I don't know what to say except hopefully you are not being pinned down and on the bottom.




Curious
Stanford
on Oct 30, 2018 at 1:40 pm
Curious, Stanford
on Oct 30, 2018 at 1:40 pm

> If a woman claimed sexual assault after having removed all of her clothing VOLUNTARILY and crawling into bed...I would also suggest that she get some psychological counseling.

What if she was intoxicated? Alcohol often leads to sex and in many instances, it's a big '? mark' the following morning. Who's responsible in this instance? Would sending her to AA be another possible alternative?

>> Are you creating a hypothetical scenario in which you are on a date (gone wrong) with a 235+ pound woman who is trying to have her way with you?

*shuddering at the thought*


undisclosed
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2018 at 8:12 pm
undisclosed, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2018 at 8:12 pm

Too many self-inflicted situations. Here's an old one -- Web Link


Jon Keeling
Community Center
on Nov 17, 2018 at 3:11 pm
Jon Keeling, Community Center
on Nov 17, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Self-defense can be FAR more complex than most people think and offering/following such advice as "punch him and call 911" is often not ideal, as it is overly simplistic. Self-defense also involves more than simply being aware of your surroundings (but that is a big part of it). There are various potential violent (and non-violent yet dangerous) situations that may arise and each is different.

I started teaching self-defense nearly 30 years ago and have taught thousands of people in this area (know someone who was a freshman and PALY last year? As them about me. I taught them all last year in their PE clases.) And even after all this time and being considered by many to be the high-end in this area for self-defense instruction, I know there is still more for me to learn.

I would highly recommend that EVERYONE takes some sort of self-defense class/course and follow up with refresher training as well. Unfortunately, not everyone claiming to know how to teach self-defense does a great job of it. But there are several good options in the area. Hopefully this new program at Stanford is working out well.

[Portion removed.]


Judy
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm
Judy, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm

I carry pepper spray in one jacket pocket and a taser in the other. Always have my hand on one of them while walking alone.

[Portion removed,]


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