Sexual harassment and assault remain all too common in the theatre industry. While sexual harassment can be experienced by anyone, cases involving women and nonbinary individuals are more than double that of men.
A survey by Cosmopolitan in 2015 found that seventy-one percent of women do not report sexual harassment because they fear retaliation. Seventy-five percent of people reporting sexual harassment do face some retaliation, including being fired, yet bystanders rarely report the harassment they have witnessed. If we want this to change, we all need to take responsibility. If you see something, say something.
In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Maestra has compiled a list of resources for anyone who has experienced unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.
Resources for Music and Theatre Professionals
- Local 802’s Harassment Hotline allows members of the Musicians’ Union to anonymously report workplace harassment to an unbiased third-party organization.
- Entertainment Community Fund provides a safe and confidential space for those who have experienced sexual harassment in the entertainment and performing arts community. This is a monthly support group for processing and sharing with the assistance of others.
- The Royal Court’s “Code of Behaviour” is a comprehensive code of behavior created by the Royal Court Theatre, offering concrete steps and actions to prevent sexual harassment and abuses of power in the theater community.
- Not in Our House is a Chicago-based movement founded to fight against sexual discrimination and harassment as well as gender-based violence in the theater community.
- The Actors Fund offers emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care and insurance counseling, senior care, secondary career development, and more for theater professionals
- Human Resources for the Arts is a coalition of New York-based artists and lawyers dedicated to educating and supporting arts workers around sexual harassment issues.
- Calling All Crows – #Here for the Music Campaign works to build true safety with all parties who come together to create a show or festival: artists, promoters, fans, venue staff, touring professionals, media professionals, and more.
Resources by Region
- Equal Rights Advocates fights for gender justice in workplaces and schools across the country through bold legislation.
- Florin|Roebig’s Sexual Assault Guide provides clear legal advice from trial lawyers on what to do after a sexual assault, including a detailed overview of what to do immediately following the incident, your rights, sexual assault laws in your state, and how to seek help with filing a claim.
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.
- National Bar Association, Women Lawyers Division provides leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession and advocate for the equality of women under the law.
- National Women’s Law Center are advocates, experts, and lawyers who fight for gender justice, taking on issues that are central to the lives of women and girls.
- U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau’s mandate is to ensure an equitable recovery for women, women of color, and workers with the least power on the job, informed by data and driven by the voices of and outcomes for historically marginalized communities.
- Women Employed-IL creates fundamental, systemic change for working women.
- Women’s Law Project-PA is a nonprofit public interest legal organization working to defend and advance the rights of women, girls, and LGBTQ+ people in Pennsylvania and beyond.
- RAINN (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is one of the largest anti-sexual violence organizations in the country. They run an online hotline for sexual assault victims and their families and friends and provide specific resources for children, members of the military, and Spanish speakers. They also have a database of local sexual assault service providers.
- Safe Horizon was founded in 1978 and provides support for victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, and more. As well as connecting victims with advocates who can help them report their assaults or find counseling, it also offers direct legal assistance to low-income victims as well as free legal information and advice.
- JDOE is an encrypted and anonymous reporting platform. By linking victims of mutual offenders with lawyers, JDoe is designed with survivors and witnesses in mind. A detailed index of sexual misconduct laws by state is built directly into the app to help guide users through the reporting process. Quickly browse for nearby resources and the latest policies concerning sexual misconduct.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center offers support tools for sexual violence victims as well as encourages prevention, providing e-learning courses. Their extensive online library is also a resource for researchers.
- Feminist Majority Foundation lists harassment hotlines by state.
- CVTC (Crime Victims Treatment Center) is dedicated to helping survivors of interpersonal violence heal. They offer crisis intervention, individual and group trauma-focused therapy, legal advocacy, complementary therapy, and psychiatric consultation. All services are confidential and completely free of charge.
- Helping Survivors assists anyone who has been victimized by sexual assault or abuse. Their website is a compilation of information about different instances of sexual violence, and they offer resources to assist survivors and their families.
- FORGE is a national trans anti-violence organization that provides services to transgender, gender-nonconforming, and gender nonbinary sexual assault victims and their families and friends. It offers training and assistance for those who work with sexual assault survivors as well as connecting victims with therapists in their area.
- Anti-Violence Project provides support to LGBT and HIV-affected communities for any type of violence and offers support groups, legal assistance, and even “art expression groups” for victims of hate violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence.
- The Network/La Red’s mission is to end partner abuse in LGBT, BDSM, and polyamorous communities. It has created manuals on how to identify partner abuse — especially how to distinguish consensual BDSM behavior from abuse — and provides advocate information, hotlines, and even free short-term housing in the Boston area for victims.
- Intimate Partner Violence Guide
- What To Do If You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted: A Step-By-Step Guide
- Understanding the Me Too Movement: A Sexual Harassment Awareness Guide
- Guide to Defining Sexual Consent and Preventing Sexual Assault
- The Sexual Harassment Handbook is a guide by attorney Linda Gordon Howard on how to recognize and effectively deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women is a guide on internet safety written by women for women.
- The Recovery Village: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder offers educational materials on how to identify the signs, types, and treatments for PTSD.
- The Callisto Survivor’s Guide offers information and resources for survivors of sexual assault, rape, and professional sexual coercion.
- Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa provides survivor-directed support services by womyn, to womyn who have experienced sexual violence. They strive to increase public awareness and offer training on the issues and effects of violence against womyn. They also engage in action to pressure for change in the structures and systems that contribute to the practice, maintenance, and tolerance of violence, oppression, discrimination, and exploitation.
- Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre supports and empowers trans and cis women, trans men, two-spirit, gender-fluid, and nonbinary survivors. They work to build a stronger community response to sexual and gender-based violence.
- Toronto Rape Crisis Centre provides a free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week crisis line service. The Crisis Line is a private and confidential crisis intervention/support service.
- Barbra Schlifer Clinic provides legal, counseling, and translation services for survivors of sexual assault.
- Ontario Violence Hotlines lists all support hotlines in the province.
- Talk4Healing provides support for indigenous language speakers.
- Quebec Sexual Assault Resources provides the names of province-wide hotlines and support organizations.
- Centre pour les victimes d’agression sexuelle de Montréal (MSAC) / Montreal Sexual Assault Centre offers a range of bilingual services free of charge to anyone who has been a victim of sexual violence. Services are also offered to the victim’s family and close friends.
- My Health Alberta lists resources for survivors of sexual harassment and assault in all Canadian provinces.
- WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre offers trauma-informed feminist support to survivors of sexualized violence. Their services are open to cis and trans women and people of all marginalized genders, including two-spirit, trans, and nonbinary people.
- Equality Advisory Support Service is an advice Line for issues relating to equality and human rights.
- The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights.
- NHS Sexual Assault Referral Centres are single locations where any victim of rape or sexual assault can receive medical care, police intervention, and support services. You can use this tool to find SARCs in your area.
- Equality and Human Rights Commission promotes upholds equality and human rights ideals and laws across England, Scotland, and Wales.
England and Wales
- Citizens Advice Bureau England provides education on what sexual harassment is and what you can do about it.
- Rape Crisis England and Wales is a national charity and umbrella body for a network of independent member Rape Crisis Centres.
- Victim Support is an independent charity helping people affected by crime or traumatic events, including rape and sexual assault.
- UK Government information on reporting rape or attempted sexual assault.
- Public Concern at Work (PWAC) is a charity that supports workplace whistleblowing.
- Law Centres Network works in local communities to defend the legal rights of people who cannot afford a lawyer.
- Civil Legal Advice (England and Wales provides information about whether legal aid is available for your case.
- Rights of Women is an organization providing free confidential legal advice and information to women in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice Scotland provides information on how to take action on harassment.
- Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland works to eliminate discrimination in all forms in Scotland.
- Rape Crisis Scotland is Scotland’s leading organization working to transform attitudes, improve responses, and ultimately end rape and sexual violence in all its forms.
- Victim Support Scotland empowers those affected by crime in Scotland.
- Police Scotland provides help to victims of sexual crime in Scotland.
- Victims’ Code for Scotland lists rights for victims of crime in Scotland.
- Scottish Women’s Rights Centre provides free and confidential legal information and advice.
- Engender is Scotland’s feminist policy and advocacy organization.
- Current equality legislation for Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission oversees the Government’s commitment to protecting equality and human rights in a post-Brexit Northern Ireland.
- Rape Crisis Help Ireland (includes Northern Ireland) provides information on professional support and choices for victims.
- Citizen’s Advice provides rape and sexual assault advice for Northern Ireland.
- Sexual Abuse Counselling Northern Ireland offers a helpline, counseling, and workshops for survivors of sexual abuse in Northern Ireland.
- Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland is a twenty-four-hour domestic and sexual violence helpline providing advice on legal rights.
Resources for Students
The American Association of University Women has conducted several national surveys about sexual harassment in schools and on-campus that show it to be a widespread problem. More than sixty percent of college students experience sexual harassment, according to a survey for AAUW’s 2006 report Drawing the Line.
- Title IX Policy provides federal regulation on how primary and secondary educational institutions must respond to allegations of sexual harassment.
- Know Your IX is a survivor and youth-led project of Advocates for Youth that aims to empower students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools.
- Project Callisto creates technology to combat sexual assault, empower survivors, and advance justice – an online sexual assault reporting system.
- #MeTooK12 Resources provides selected sexual harassment/assault programs for K-12 students and parents
- The Safe Alliance creates training materials designed to help educators address sexual harassment and assault.
- Safe Place to Learn is one set of materials among a diverse collection of tools commissioned by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. This resource includes guidance for administrators; e-learning modules for all school staff; a coordinated response team planning guide and training module; a trauma sensitivity training module; and action steps, discussion guides, bystander supports, and other resources.
- End Rape On Campus provides free, direct assistance to all survivors with filing federal complaints and connects them to mental health professionals and legal counsel. They also work on policy reform and education.
- Break the Cycle motivates and supports young people to speak out about dating abuse in their schools and communities. Features information about healthy relationships, consent, setting boundaries, using online dating apps, etc…
- Q&A on Campus Sexual Assault
- Revised Office for Civil Rights Sexual Harassment Guidance provides guidance for students who’ve experienced harassment from an employee of an educational institution.
- Sexual Harassment: It’s Not Academic
- Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Harassment, Including Sexual Violence
- Checklist for Addressing Harassment
Maestra Stands with The Lillys’ Statement Of Principle
“No one should be forced to choose between her personal safety and dignity, and her job. But too often in the theater community, this is exactly the choice that women must make. Sexual discrimination and harassment and gender-based violence often occur in the intimate and physical context of a theater production.
Victims of such conduct face a stark choice between continuing to work in close collaboration with their abuser and quitting the show. Few can afford to give up a job and lose not only income but also the opportunity for career advancement. There is a sense in the community that it is not necessarily in a victim’s best interest to report abuse because of fear that the response will be insufficient and open her up to retribution.
In addition, many instances of abuse happen outside of the physical boundaries of a theater. No theater, union, or guild currently takes responsibility for handling such cases. However, the two people involved will most likely have to work together the next day or in another production, and the victims are left to deal with the aftermath by themselves. In the face of these realities, victims often choose silence and the abuse is allowed to continue. It is time for the theater community to break its own silence on harassment and abuse and formally address the problem.
The reality is that those who behave abusively are generally in positions of power. Artistic directors hold the power to employ, playwrights have hiring approval; removing a director mid-rehearsal puts an entire production in doubt; losing a celebrity from the cast hurts ticket sales. All of these roles continue to be held predominantly by men and their victims are predominantly women. An unresolved conflict with a person in power can easily become an ongoing barrier to career opportunities throughout a woman’s career. Harassment and abuse are contributing factors that slow the advancement of women in theater.
We are aware of men being intentionally injured during performances, as well as gay and straight men being harassed and abused in much the same way as women have been. Victims can be anyone, stagehands as well as actresses, designers as well as writers. A more robust and victim-centered response to the problem will move the culture forward and benefit all.
On January 12th at New Dramatists, a meeting was held among members of the theater community, including representatives from the Dramatists Guild of America, the Actor’s Equity Association, and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Three proposals for change and enhancement of their existing procedures were generated and discussed:
We recommend that a clear statement be read at each professional production’s first company meeting outlining the procedure to file a complaint. The procedures and related contact numbers should be prominently posted on theater and union/guild websites.
We recommend that each union or guild designate a specific person to receive complaints. This person should be thoroughly educated and knowledgeable about the procedures and be prepared to guide victims to them and to appropriate support services.
We recommend that, when appropriate, a mediation process be overseen by a neutral professional be added to what the unions and guilds currently offer to parties in dispute over a claim of abuse or harassment.
Move For Mediation
Mediation has an overwhelming success rate. Over the past twenty years, it has become a broadly endorsed method for handling harassment claims in the courts and in private practice. All federal district courts are required by law to devise and implement programs to promote and encourage alternative dispute resolution. The New York Supreme Court has both mandatory and voluntary mediation programs, depending on the nature of the dispute. A study of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) mediation program found that 91% of claimants and 96% of respondents who used mediation to solve their dispute would use it again. It is commonly held that when disputing parties voluntarily participate in mediation they are more likely to abide by the terms of their agreement and there is less likely to be retribution, one of the most common reasons victims do not come forward with complaints. Moreover, mediation provides a complainant the opportunity to speak for herself and empowers her to participate in shaping a remedy. It also allows the accused to clarify his side of the story and avoid public charges. In addition, mediation is the most likely method to reach an amicable resolution in a relatively short time, which limits costs and disruption to the production, theater, union or guild.
We strongly recommend and support making these simple changes to recognize and address the needs of the victims of abuse. By instituting these measures, the unions and guilds will be taking steps toward ensuring the safety and dignity of their members.
The theater community has long whispered, laughed, and written about harassment in its ranks, telling tales of the casting couch and out-of-control stars. It is past time we stopped ignoring or even encouraging abusive behavior and publicly recognize the existence of sexual discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence within our community. It is time to confront and overcome this abuse.”