You're in a Brave Space

Women Offshore's Sexual Assault and Violence Eradication (S.A.V.E.) Program is a brave space to find reporting and support resources.

We know all too well that sexual violence exists against women in offshore environments.

It is no secret that women working in offshore environments have experienced interpersonal violence encompassing a spectrum of psychological, physical, and sexual harm including but not limited to gaslighting, stalking, bullying, physical assault, and sexual assault. A climate and culture where these adverse behaviors from harassment to assault occur contributes to an increase in sexual violence.

There are long-term and short-term impacts of sexual violence on overall health and well-being. Each survivor reacts to sexual violence in their own unique way and an assault may impact daily life whether it happened recently or many years ago.

At Women Offshore in order to eradicate sexual violence in the maritime industry and support the safety of seafarers, a Sexual Assault & Violence Eradication (S.A.V.E.) Program was founded to provide reporting and support resources. Please reach out to the program coordinator below with any questions or to offer your support.

Meet Christine MacMillan, S.A.V.E. Program Coordinator

Christine is an experienced mariner who is passionate about helping women+ navigate careers on the water. She is a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy, licensed as a USCG unlimited chief mate, and worked on various ships for 8 years post graduation. As the S.A.V.E. Program Coordinator, Christine manages and oversees the organization’s relationships and development of prevention, response, recovery, accountability and shipboard climate change initiatives, such as victim support resources, reporting avenues, bystander training, and awareness campaigns.

Please contact Christine MacMillan at christine@womenoffshore.org with any questions or concerns.

Do you know the difference?

Sexual Violence

The term “sexual violence” is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. The legal definition of crimes vary from state to state. There are often other crimes and forms of violence that arise jointly with crimes like sexual assault.

Learn more at Rainn.org

Sexual Assualt

Sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
  • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

see how your state legally defines rape and other forms of sexual assault, visit RAINN’s State Law Database.

Source: Rainn.org

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Sexual harassment does not always have to be specifically about sexual behavior or directed at a specific person. For example, negative comments about women as a group may be a form of sexual harassment.

Although sexual harassment laws do not usually cover teasing or offhand comments, these behaviors can also be upsetting and have a negative emotional effect.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. The harasser can identify with any gender and have any relationship to the victim, including being a direct manager, indirect supervisor, coworker, teacher, peer, or colleague.

Some forms of sexual harassment include:

  • Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly.
  • Physical acts of sexual assault.
  • Requests for sexual favors.
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation.
  • Unwanted touching or physical contact.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places.
  • Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually.
  • Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself.
  • Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.

Source: Rainn.org

Reporting and Support Resources

if you have been a victim of or a witness to sexual assault or sexual harassment, you are not alone and can take action today. It can be hard to speak up, but it is a necessary step in seeking help and breaking the cycle of violence at sea. 

We encourage you to report experiences of sexual violence, assault, and harassment to your employer, academy, or union as per their guidelines, or directly to the USCG through their tips app. 

Below is a list of additional reporting and support resources. Please choose what is best for you.

  • USCG Tips Form and App: This link will take you to the USCG tip form to leave a detailed report about an incident of concern.
  • Safer Waves: Safer Waves offers support and information to merchant seafarers who have experienced sexual violence or gender discrimination while working at sea. Please see their website for additional resources.
  • SeafarerHelp: SeafarerHelp is run by ISWAN (International Seafarer Welfare and Assistance Network), this support service can be accessed in a number of ways. They can be contacted regarding any issue, including sexual assault. The helpline is run by staff who are multilingual and have received training in listening/ counselling skills, suicide risk assessment and the issues affecting seafarers. They can provide emotional support and refer to counselors if appropriate.Dial +44 20 7323 2737 or email help@seafarerhelp.org
  • Yacht Crew Help: Yacht Crew Help is also run by ISWAN as above and directly for those working in the Yachting industry. It is a 24-hour support for professional yacht crew worldwide
  • RAINN-Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: The RAINN website offers information for victims of Sexual Violence, including a 24/7 Hotline. Call 1-800-656-HOPE(4673)
  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC): The NSVRC is another place to find resources as they maintain a directory of organizations within the US to help victims of sexual violence.
  • Victim Connect: Confidential Referrals for Crime Victims: Victim Connect is a place to find additional resources and a hotline is available by call, text or chat online; 1-855-484-2846.
  • SeaCode: SeaCode is an anonymous platform for people in the maritime industry to raise awareness. 

A Common Question:

 

What does stalking look like on a vessel?

Stalking is defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” It is a pattern of behavior, often made up of individual acts that could, by themselves, seem harmless or noncriminal, but when taken in the context of a stalking situation, could constitute criminal acts. Legal definitions of stalking vary depending on where you live and it is a crime in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government.

On board a vessel, stalking can look like repeatedly showing up in a crewmember’s workspace or in or outside their cabin, without invitation or obvious reasons for being there, or during hours when the perpetrator wouldn’t normally be in these areas. Activity sometimes also occurs online and/or continues after both parties have disembarked.

Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. If you think you are being stalked please use the form below to keep a log to aid in reporting the incidents. Find more information about stalking at www.stalkingawareness.org

EVEN MORE

If you are interested in reading any of the books on our list, please reach out to christine@womenoffshore.org and she will send you a free copy.

Read: Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies For Women In The Workplace,” by David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson

Women are at a disadvantage in the workplace, where they deal with unequal pay, sexual harassment, lack of credit for their contributions, and more. And while organizations are looking to address these issues, too many gender-inclusion initiatives focus exclusively on how women should respond, leaving men out of the equation. Such efforts reinforce the perception that these are “women’s issues” and that men – often the most powerful stakeholders in an organization – don’t need to be involved.

As gender-in-the-workplace experts David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson show in this important book, men have a crucial opportunity to promote gender equality at work. Research shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender-inclusion programs, 96 percent of women in those organizations perceive real progress in gender equality, compared with only 30 percent of women in organizations without strong male engagement.

Watch: Violence Against Women is a Men’s Issue,” a Ted Talk aby Jackson Katz. 

Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called “women’s issues.” But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change.

Read: “Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayal in Sexual Assaults,” by Amos N Guiora

Guiora proposes legal, cultural, and social measures aimed at the enabler from the survivor’s perspective. The proposed changes will address, and impact, both broader society and specific communities including higher education, elite athletics, sports organizations, religious institutions, law enforcement, the entertainment industry, and elected officials.

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