Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the sponsors of CounterQuo?
Victim Rights Law Center, the first nonprofit law center in the nation solely dedicated to serving the legal needs of sexual assault victims, and The Voices and Faces Project, a national creative and documentary initiative that seeks to bring the stories of sexual violence survivors to the attention of the public.
How did CounterQuo get started?
CounterQuo began as a series of discussions between the leadership at Victim Rights Law Center in Boston and The Voices and Faces Project in Chicago -- discussions that considered how the rights and representations of sexual violence survivors are impacted by law, the media and the public engagement of survivors. With the founding of CounterQuo, we seek to engage others in our ongoing discussion, one that has been characterized by respect, candor and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom.
What does the name represent?
During a time in which “change” has become a buzzword, our legal, cultural and communal responses to sexual violence continue to reinforce the status quo. We think it’s time to turn it around. We are challenging the status quo -- and so are CounterQuo.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Our goal is to foster new alliances and information sharing between anti-violence leaders from the worlds of advocacy, law, media, public health and academia. Through on and offline efforts we will encourage the development of new ideas and fresh dialogue, and consider best practices from other social, legal and public health movements. Facilitating discussion is important, and we expect that there will be a lot of it as we share information and challenge existing modes of thinking. But discussion alone is not enough. We are action and results oriented, and so are committed to the development of an action plan. In fall of 2008 and again in 2012 our CounterQuo leadership team met in Chicago to take a “deep dive” into the state of the law and the culture as regards sexual violence, explored how and why other social movements have taken hold in the popular consciousness. We developed an actionable, results oriented strategic plan for moving the issue of sexual violence more firmly onto the public stage.
Our goal is to engage a long list of private, public and not-for-profit partners in the execution of that plan. Exploring additional initiatives, including a multi-media public awareness campaign, a series of white papers and a national speakers bureau, is on our agenda.
What’s wrong with the way the culture currently responds to sexual violence?
Actually, quite a lot. Our public discourse about rape and abuse, largely driven by a series of high-profile cases, often blames victims for the damage that has been done to them. Criminal justice outcomes for sexual assault crimes remain static. Civil rights protections for rape survivors are virtually non-existent. Cultural representations of violence against women (in film, music, TV and the 24/7 world of the blogosphere) treat as normal that which we know is harmful. Thanks to the efforts of the anti-rape movement over the last 40 years, progress has been made. But the available data on sexual violence shows us that far too often, much remains the same.
It seems like survivors are speaking out more. Hasn’t that made a difference?
It has become conventional wisdom, in anti-violence circles, to believe that silence stands in the way of justice. Through slogans and public statements – stop the silence, end sexual violence – great faith has been placed in testimony. There has been an implicit promise in the language of the rape crisis movement: if victims speak out, their words have the power to create change. Yet more than 40 years after the advent of the rape crisis movement, have we fulfilled our promise? We think the answer to that question is: “not often enough." Important work has been done in this movement – much of it by our own mentors and heroes. But too often survivors speak out to a culture that does not respond as it should. We hope that the efforts of CounterQuo will change that.
Who is funding CounterQuo?
Victim Rights Law Center and The Voices and Faces Project. These two organizations have also lined up a roster of pro bono resources,including Seyfarth Shaw, Winston and Strawn LLP, 15letters, Inc., and Stone Ward Advertising to help us grow this seed of an idea into something powerful.
Why is CounterQuo focused on rape and sexual assault, and not on violence against women more generally?
Though there is still much work to be done, the domestic violence movement has seen significant improvements in societal reactions to domestic violence, funding of domestic violence services, and criminal and civil legal responses to domestic violence. In order to address what is different about rape and sexual assault (and uniquely lacking about our cultural and legal responses to it) the focus of CounterQuo will be on sexual violence.
How can I get involved?
First off, visit this website. We constantly add links, updates and information on our efforts and our work and ways that you or your organization can get involved. If you would like to be added to our contact list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll add you to our mailing lists right away. Finally, if you are an individual or foundation interested in supporting our efforts to change the way the culture responds to sexual violence, we welcome your support. Donations to CounterQuo are fully tax-deductible. Please contact Katie Feifer at email@example.com to find out more about how you can become a member of our CounterQuo Leadership Circle through your tax-deductible gift of support for our efforts.