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The Value of Training

This is the first in a vaguely two-part series about the importance of training, mentorship, strategies and tactics in ending sexual violence.  This week deals primarily with training.

In September of 2006, I was unemployed and frantically looking for work.  In between my daily job applications and short-term employment stints helping paint fences and answer phones, I found I spent a lot of time in the Boston Public Library in Copley.  I found Ariel Levy, and her book Katha Pollitt, over at The Nation.  I started to feverishly devour any critical thinking/feminist tract I could find - it was intellectually satisfying, I had the time, and it fit my liberal world view.

Naomi Wof’s Emerge  Emerge is an anti-domestic violence organization and runs several trainings throughout the year.  The next set is coming up in January.  While the training is specific to domestic violence, sexual violence and DV share a lot of characteristics.

  • Mentors in Violence Prevention    MVP is a program of the Sport in Society Center at Northeastern University, and uses a unique model challenging mainstream perceptions of gender to fight against sexual violence.  They run the MVP Institute once a year, I believe, either in the late Spring or Fall.
  • BARCC! Come volunteer with BARCC!  The BARCC 40-hour training is intense but thorough, and each volunteer area also has its own program specific work, too, along with ongoing peer supervision time to try out new things and discuss specific tactics for fighting sexual violence.  If you don’t have the time to become a regular volunteer, though, you can always request one of the many CAPS trainings available.
  • The Network/La Red runs great trainings about working with the LGBT community, and is one of the best resources for anti-violence activists and volunteers who want to better understand how to talk about abuse and violence with the trans community.  That’s a topic that gets virtually no discussion in any mainstream cultural source, and their trainings make it approachable and understandable.

It would neither be wise (nor legal) to allow a person with an interest in engineering to build a bridge - the chance that something will go wrong is almost 100%.  Likewise, when we’re talking about pushing back on all of the cultural messages we’re receiving, and talking about rape and sexual assault in a way that is reasonable and supported by evidence, we have to have some time and ability to practice, to build skills, and to learn best practices for fighting for a more just world.  If you’ve got more suggestions for places doing good anti-violence and gender-justice trainings, throw ‘em in the comments!

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Posted by Dave

Dave has volunteered with BARCC since 2007 and works in higher education administration. He also facilitates a men's pro-feminist group, is a STARZ member of Socializing for Justice, a Yelp Elite '10 member, and sits on the advisory council of the Boston Medical Center's domestic violence prevention board. He got involved with BARCC to further his understanding of feminism and gender justice, and also to get the chance to show his speaking skills far and wide. He lives in Allston, where the music is.


  1. There is! BARCC offers two-hour courses on how to respond to someone telling you about their rape or sexual assault. It's free for a group in person ( or $30 online ( If you have a student group that's interested in that or any of our other courses, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!

  2. Perhaps I'm just whining about the fact that I'm a busy student, but is there any good that could be done by something like an 8-hour course or a series of 4-hour courses? I have felt for a while that if someone I knew came to me to talk about the fact that he or she had been raped or sexually assaulted, I would not know really what to do. Or would that only make me confident without enough knowledge?

    -- Andrew Farrell
    MIT '12

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