Considerations of Identity
Sexual violence impacts individuals, but its root causes are interwoven throughout our entire culture. Therefore, to eradicate violence, we must all evaluate the prevailing language, attitudes, and cultural beliefs about sex, sexuality, gender, and identity.
For some victims, the impact of an assault is compounded due to the fact that their very identity presents additional barriers to accessing services or receiving compassionate care and assistance. This is a result of existing biases, stereotypes, and the unwillingness of a dominant culture to examine and change long-standing belief systems.
“Considerations of Identity” is an umbrella term which WCASA is adopting to reflect our intent to ensure that issues of personal identity are taken into consideration when examining the impact of sexual violence upon individuals as well as when implementing prevention efforts. It is a step we are taking as an agency to recognize that sexual violence is intertwined with other expressions of violence, and intimately tied to all forms of oppression.
In the fall of 2009, WCASA hired a Violence Prevention Communications Coordinator who brought with him a concept developed while providing consulting to the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Equity & Diversity : The Periodic Table of Human Elements (PToHE, pictured above). The PToHE is a conceptual framework intended to draw conversations about identity out from the margins; in other words, historically under-represented identities are placed side-by-side with historically dominant ones; in this manner, hierarchical values are removed from the equation and those with historically dominant cultural identities – who usually enjoy the privilege of not having to think about their race, orientation, ability, etc. – are asked to see aspects of their identity as an option, not the default or “normal.”
Absent a dominant value system, one can begin to question the meaning of her/his experiences of identity in relation to people from other social groups.
We hope this side-by-side comparison will also help us better understand where gaps in services or response exist and must be addressed.
Podcast Series – Social Justice as a Foundation for Prevention | PreventConnect – in 3 parts (part 2 link has links to parts 1 & 3 as well)