ERPi Sparks A Conversation

ERPi Sparks A Conversation


ERPi Sparks A Conversation



Last week, ERPi launched Spark A Conversation, a new panel discussion series focused on convening industry experts to discuss today’s important issues. The first virtual panel convened sexual assault prevention and response experts from across industry to discuss how far the field has come and the array of opportunities for the field to grow in the future.

Panelists included: Renee Ferranti, Director, Sexual Assault Risk-Reduction & Response, Peace Corps; Jill M. Londagin​, Director, US Army SHARP Program; Jill Dunlap, PhD​, Senior Director for Research and Practice, NASPA; and Karen Lang​, Sexual Violence Prevention SME. The panel was moderated by Melissa Bartnick (ERPi) and Michael Hudson, former Director of US Marine Corps SAPR.

Panelists touched on a wide range of topics, including a discussion on offender accountability and survivor care. In order to discuss accountability and the range of resources for survivors it was critical to level set with a discussion on the breadth of sexual assault utilizing the continuum of harm. It is important to recognize that rape is one part of the continuum, and that there are many inappropriate behaviors included under the umbrella of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Other topics discussed during the panel included the impact COVID is having on sexual assault within their organization, the important role leadership plays in prevention, and finally each panelist discussed what they believe is the key to moving the field forward in the future.

Watch the full panel discussion HERE.

ERPi collected chat box questions and asked our panelists to respond. Below you will find their responses to audience members’ questions:


Audience Chat Question

Will the 7000 volunteers return to their position in Peace Corps once we get past COVID?


Renee Ferranti: Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers or Peace Corps Response Volunteers interested in returning to service will be given priority in placement. Specific information about criteria, timing and the reinstatement or re-enrollment process can be found here. General information about the return to overseas operations can be found here. The timeline to return is fluid due to the complexity of assessing the status of each country.

How can we help advocate for better K-12 education on these topics and how do we get ahead of it when they get here?

Karen Lang: Yes, we cannot wait until those that go to university end up there to address sexual violence prevention. Norms, attitudes and beliefs are formed early in life; ideally, we are promoting norms around healthy relationships, gender equality, anti-homophobia, etc. in the home, school and other places where youth are. Partnering with local rape crisis centers, boys and girls clubs, youth rec sports, etc. to advance positive youth development is a place to start.

Jill Dunlap: People should advocate for K-12 education on sexual assault and consent. This is another way to ensure that students don’t get all the way to our colleges and universities without knowing how to obtain consent, adhere to one another’s boundaries, etc. California passed great legislation on this very issue and there are several other states that have also. These could be used as model legislation in other states if folks can find legislators who are passionate about sexual assault prevention. College students, parents, alumni, and rape crisis centers are great allies in getting legislation like this passed. According to this article, only 24 states mandate sex education in K-12 education, and of those, just 9 include consent education (the article also has good graphics that offer a state by state comparison). Here is another article with a state-by-state comparison of which states include healthy relationships and consent into sex education.

What are some steps that academic institutions take to ensure survivor's safety while leaving the perpetrator on campus? What about when the survivor wants the person punished?

Jill Dunlap: The best way to ensure a solid outcome for survivors is to center their wishes in the process. When I worked with survivors, I prepared them to think about possible outcomes as they were deciding whether to go through a campus Title IX or conduct reporting process. So, we would talk through all possible outcomes in advance (if the person is found responsible, what would the survivor want the sanction to be; if they are found not responsible, what does that mean for the survivor and their ability to feel safe on campus, etc.). Talking through potential outcomes with survivors can help them navigate outcomes that involve offenders being found not responsible. One of the good things about the most recent Title IX regulations was the Department of Education changing support systems for survivors from “interim measures” (which made many institutions think they only had to provide support services to students during an active investigation) to supportive measures. This change means that institutions are expected to provide supportive services (accommodations, access to mental health, etc.) to survivors whether they choose to officially report or not, and after an investigation. Finally, making sure that survivors have access to counseling if they want it, or support groups, and assessing their social support network throughout and after a process really helps survivors deal with a negative outcome of an investigation.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing sexual violence, please call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) ​or visit​.

For more information on sexual assault prevention and response check out these additional resources:

Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

Army SHARP Program

Peace Corps Sexual Assault Risk-Reduction and Response Program

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Restorative Justice Campus PRISM

Expanding the Frame: Institutional Responses to Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct