We might think we know what a rapist “looks like”, or how a victim should behave. We might think we know what we would do if we were on the receiving end of sexual or domestic violence, how we might react, what we might do directly afterwards. Many people like to think this couldn’t happen to someone like them and so won’t have thought about how they’d react in similar circumstances. But the reality is often very different from the image we have in our heads.
Sometimes we don’t want to look at that reality – that abuse often happens in our homes, and is often carried out by people we might like, love or respect.
So many of us are affected by these issues, and yet it’s incredibly difficult to talk about them.
Angles is an On Road Media project that brings media influencers together with people with lived experience of sexual violence and domestic abuse, and/or who work in the sector, promoting new content and a better understanding of the issues.
It’s no secret that the scale of the problem is enormous. Every hour, nearly 11 rapes of adults alone take place in England and Wales, according to Rape Crisis. NSPCC says that over 90% of sexually abused children were abused by someone they knew.
And we know that there is a relationship between justice and ultimately public safety, and the way jurors and prosecutors understand sexual abuse, victims and perpetrators.
So how can we make a difference?
The media plays a significant role in shaping how we understand these issues and that the vast majority of journalists are keen to get it right. We think we can all benefit from coming together and finding new ways of bringing the issues to light.
Angles is doing exactly that. We support survivors and practitioners to work with the media by giving them media skills, mentoring and peer support. By bringing journalists together with survivors and sector professionals, we are creating the right conditions for collaboration and creation, leading towards more and better content about sexual and domestic abuse. Here’s how it works…
Interactions with the media
We understand what journalists need – great contacts, accurate information and fantastic ideas that help them with their jobs as creators of factual and fictional content.
Interactions are informal meet-ups between journalists and our Angles network which is made up of people with lived experience, campaigners, front-line workers, academics and more.
It is a method for engagement developed through On Road Media’s award-winning project All About Trans – which has increased the visibility of transgender people in the UK media, leading to consultations on scripts and storylines in programmes such as Hollyoaks and Eastenders, leveraging over £5.5 million in positive programming and a sea change in newspaper reporting.
So far Angles has held interactions with senior editors from The Observer, Metro, Evening Standard, The Independent, BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat and more in the last few months. Read testimonials from people who’ve taken part and our blog for latest events.
And journalists love the interactions, but don’t just take our word for it! 96% of media professionals would recommend the experience to a colleague:
“I took a lot from it, it was very important I feel to simply introduce [and] motivate a critical grappling with the issue of sexual violence, and be inspired by the first-person accounts of the participants.”
Tom Goulding, Video reporter, Independent
“Journalists often only meet people who have suffered in this way in a formal interview, or seeing them across a court room when covering a case. Our meeting gave us an opportunity to speak off the record with some extremely wise and brave people in a friendly, informal atmosphere.”
Stephen Pritchard, Reader’s Editor, The Observer
There are lots of different outcomes to these meetings. Sometimes journalists simply follow up with people from the network to have coffee and find out more. Sometimes they might work with someone on a story or a feature, or the meeting might inspire a storyline in a soap or even a whole series.
What happens next is up to the individuals in the room. Sometimes outcomes happen months or years after an interaction.
Our immediate goal is to inspire and create connections.
Our network is amazing – here is how we support them
We work with a particular kind of activist, those who are talking about their own experiences. Those who want to improve the lives of people like them, who risk more than a professional campaigner would as they are sharing their personal stories on public platforms.
And they are also strong advocates with powerful voices. We have developed an effective method of enabling these people to influence change strategically and sustainably, over the long-term, whilst looking after themselves and avoiding burn-out.
We deliver specially tailored media training courses that give trainees practical media skills alongside an understanding of how the media works, how change happens, and how to practice good self-care.
“I will prepare myself before interviews rather than ‘crashing’ through! Thank you!”
“Thank you for letting me become part of this special group, I really feel very honoured. It has given me a lot more to think about and I was surprised by the feelings of being connected in some way, without knowing anything about anyone in the room.”
Alongside the media training courses, we run monthly peer support group meetings. These sessions, facilitated by On Road Media founder Nathalie McDermott, bring people from our growing network together to share advice, tips on engaging with the media and concerns with speaking out.
The peer support group over time has become a resilient, focused and engaged network of nearly 50 people that can collaborate with journalists and broadcasters in various ways.
Since 2015, we have been developing partnerships with lots of organisations and individuals in the sector, including a pivotal partnership with Dr Nina Burrowes, a research psychologist who specialises in the psychology of sexual abuse, who provided us with brilliant insight into some of the issues that arise from the damaging myths in this area.
Along with Dr Burrowes and author and activist Winnie Li, we co-organised and sponsored the Clear Lines Festival in 2015, the UK’s first festival dedicated to opening up a space to discuss sexual assault and consent. Channel 4 reported on the event here.
Angles is currently supported by Trust for London and National Lottery Awards for All, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We are also grateful to have had support from the The London Community Foundation.