Mr. Smith got mugged, but he probably brought it upon himself.
Wasn’t he wearing a nice suit? Didn’t he go to the ATM? And hasn’t he been known to give away money?
“We say things to women who have been victimized, and I think it’s out of a place of fear and shock and pain,” said Shantelle Gaynor, Crime Victim Advocate grants administrator in the Missoula Office of Planning and Grants.
The city and University of Montana have been dealing with the problem of rape, and Gaynor shared the “Mr. Smith gets mugged” scenario as a counterpoint to the way people often respond to rape victims.
City and UM officials have advised women on preventing rape and reminded them of what to do afterward – call 9-1-1 – and Wednesday, Gaynor and Councilwoman Caitlin Copple pitched a campaign that targets not victims but bystanders and potential perpetrators.
“We see our campaign as kind of a sister to that (9-1-1 campaign). That’s after the fact. You’ve been assaulted. What do you do?” Gaynor said after the meeting. “We’re trying to get a little further upstream.”
Said Copple: “It’s really important to target men – and young men – in these types of issues because they tend to be the ones committing these assaults.”
Copple and Gaynor proposed the project during a City Council Budget Committee of the Whole meeting. It was likely the last committee meeting on the 2013 fiscal year budget, and the group agreed to add $7,000 for the project, although councilors and Mayor John Engen said they want to hear more details.
“I think the notion is great. I don’t know enough about the program,” Engen said.
He said he doesn’t know how the $7,000 will be spent, who manages the program, and how this effort gets coordinated with others. Plus, the mayor said he’d like to be part of that conversation, and he doesn’t like the last-minute approach on the budget item.
“I’m a little concerned about inserting budget items on the last day of council consideration,” he said, but also noted “it’s not the end of the world.”
Copple, who raised the matter in committee, apologized for the late notice. She said the idea had emerged late in the budget season, but because sexual assault is a “top-of-mind issue in the community right now,” she decided to bring it up.
In general, councilors supported both spending the money and seeking answers to some of the questions the mayor raised. Council president Marilyn Marler suggested the program be vetted in a future Public Safety and Health Committee meeting.
“There’s no reason why it can’t happen soon,” Marler said.
The project is part of the Crime Victim Advocates’ ongoing work to prevent violence, Gaynor said. Since 2010, the office has had a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women, but that money is only to be used in rural Missoula and Mineral counties.
Gaynor hopes Missoula receives that grant again this year, and with help from the city and hopefully others, Gaynor said the campaign will broaden to address the entire community, not just rural areas. And she said the program is based on telling studies.
One researcher found that men rape on purpose and methodically pick their victims, she said. They meet “softer” women, court them, get them drunk and then assault them.
One man would purposefully bump into women carrying books in the library. He’d ignore those who said “What the hell is your problem?” But he’d develop a relationship with – and eventually rape – those who responded with an, “I’m sorry, are you OK?”
Another researcher, though, found that if just one man in a group speaks up and says, “Dude, you’re crossing the line,” or, “Hey, she’s too drunk to consent – you can’t take her home,” other friends also will join in, Gaynor said. And the potential perpetrators respond to their peers.
“If we can get one or two people to speak up, it changes the whole dynamic. And so what we want is a campaign that engages those bystanders,” she said including female bystanders.
While Gaynor said she was pleased the committee agreed to fund the campaign – nothing is final until the full council votes on the 2013 budget – she also is hoping the city will pay for a new prevention position, which is an estimated $50,000.
The $7,000 is part of a $58,256 budget, which includes funds for professional development, advertising, posters, focus groups, workshops and more. Some of the outreach is modeled on the “Men Can Stop Rape” nonprofit, which recently held a seminar at UM.
The council is slated to take up the full budget at its regular meeting 7 p.m. Monday, June 18, in Council Chambers, 140 W. Pine St.