The Online/offline: sexual violence, activism, and justice seminar was recorded on 25 November 2016. It draws together leading international and national scholars in the field of sexual violence to examine current practice, progress, and challenges in sexual violence justice and activism. In particular, the seminar investigates the role that online spaces are increasingly playing as sites of justice and activism for victim/survivors, and the interconnections and disconnects between virtual and ‘real life’ feminist praxis. Victim/survivors have successfully harnessed online to expose perpetrators, share their experiences, and to challenge dominant narratives of sexual violence. Simultaneously, online spaces are sites of sexual harm and perpetration of sexual violence, and this may pose significant limitations to activist goals and the pursuit of justice. Online activism is often characterized as ‘slacktivism’, suggesting that there may be a lack of translation between online and offline activism and justice for sexual violence.
This event features a presentation from US-based activist, academic and survivor Dr Alissa Ackerman. Dr. Alissa R. Ackerman earned her doctorate in criminal justice in 2009, but began her journey to becoming a sex crimes expert ten years prior on the night she endured a violent rape. As a sex crimes policy researcher, Dr. Ackerman has spent the better part of the last decade studying sex offender management policies in the United States. She has written extensively on the topic, with her research appearing in some of the top academic journals in her field. Alissa was determined to remain silent about being a survivor, because she feared that her academic expertise would not be taken seriously. After 15 years of silence, Alissa began to realize the importance of speaking out. These early disclosures led her to understand the power of bridging the personal and professional. In this lecture, Alissa speaks about her research expertise on sex crimes policies and how it led to her advocacy and activism on survivor storytelling. She discusses the importance of survivor-centric and evidence-based criminal justice policies. Finally, Alissa shares insights from her personal journey of silence and shame to public, professional survivor and what that has meant for her academic career and personal life.
Dr Ackerman’s talk is followed by a panel discussion, facilitated by Dr Anastasia Powell, aiming to unpack current research and debates around sexual violence, activism, and justice.