Involvement with Sextivism: Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy
Degrees: M.A Mental Health Counseling; B.A. Psychology, Certificate in Women’s Studies
Preferred Pronouns: he, his, hers
Meeting Daniel Rappaport
As soon as I met Daniel Rappaport, at his office in the Wellness Center at American University, my first reaction was to feel at ease. His reputation preceded him, as everyone I talked to on campus who had dealt with him or was a member of PEERS (Peer Educators for the Elimination of Relationship and Sexual Violence) spoke very highly about his ability to be inclusive, understanding and passionate about his field of work. I was relieved to find out that this was all true, and was grateful for his eagerness to share his work with me and discuss his activism.
How did he get the job he has now?
As an undergrad student at the University of Maryland, Daniel Rappaport majored in Psychology and was a part of a social justice-themed living-learning community. Soon after, he joined a campus peer educators group that focused on issues relating to preventing rape and safer sex practices. Later he became a Victims’ Advocate and began to hone his expertise in helping survivors of sexual aggression cope and move forward after traumatic situations.
What does he do? What’s his role at American University?
Daniel Rappaport’s official job title is: Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator. When asked what this translates into, Mr. Rappaport says that this job title encompasses overseeing campus-wide events that provide inclusive, accurate education, assisting on-campus groups who are working with topics that relate to health relationships, and the prevention of rape and stalking. However, he pointed out that his role is much greater than that, as the only source on campus who is not obligated to report up information, in relation to sexual assault, he also serves as a victims’ advocate for students who are not sure, or do not want to press charges or officially report something that has been done to them. Lastly, part of his duties include meeting with his colleagues from universities in our consortium to discuss how to better serve students.
Important aspects of his work:
- Being available: Daniel Rappaport emphasized his effort to be readily available for as long, and as frequently as people request him because he feels that due to the fact that triggers affect individuals in different ways, at different times throughout their life.
- Protecting the rights of survivors of violence: He emphasized the role of preserving the agency of individuals who have suffered violence. This entails supporting the decisions of survivors to prosecute (or not), filing reports with public safety (or not), moving dorm rooms if necessary and helping provide them the resources necessary to heal and make educated decisions about the possible courses of action.
- Helping survivors of violence build skills for coping and healing.
- Enabling anyone and everyone who is interested in preventing sexual assault and violence to do so by disseminating resources and creating programming that allows them to easily get involved.
How does his being male effect his job?
When asked how being male effects his job, Daniel Rappaport notes that it adds a whole other dimension to his work. He says that on many occasions, he has been the only male in the room when discussing courses of action for campus-wide programming with his colleagues. However, he said that because he has so much experience as a Victims’ Advocate, and he is usually the person most readily available to students at AU (because he works on-campus), most survivors of sexual assault usually feel comfortable confiding in him and asking him for help. In all cases though, he offers to locate a female Victims’ Advocate (usually one of his colleagues that works at a school in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area) for students in case they will feel more comfortable discussing their experience with them.
“We need to never settle, we need to never think the job is done. We need to constantly be improving and working until there is gender equity and the eradication of violence.” – Daniel Rappaport
Want more info on Sexual Assault Prevention, Resources and how to get involved?