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interACT Troupe uses ‘Proactive’ Training Methods to Successfully Teach Sexual Assault Prevention

The interACT Troupe under my direction has been providing sexual assault prevention trainings on the CSULB campus, in the community, at universities around the United States, and military bases worldwide since 2000. Utilizing proactive performance (highest level of audience involvement), interACT is one of the most respected and recognized prevention programs in the United States. During an interACT presentation audience members literally join the actor-educators on stage to prevent sexual assault and support survivors. I led the research team that published the first empirical study of proactive performance and violence prevention, and in the ensuing years we have published an additional five peer-reviewed articles on the efficacy of the interACT model. In addition to building empathy for survivors, debunking rape myths, and teaching empathic listening skills, a recent co-authored, longitudinal study in the leading journal ‘Violence Against Women’ demonstrated that interACT is effective in increasing perceived helpfulness of bystander interventions and self-related likelihood of engaging in bystander interventions. One of the most significant, landmark findings of this study is that male participants who showed a moderate likelihood of engaging in bystander interventions at pretest demonstrated substantial increases in their likelihood of engaging in bystander interventions immediately after the performance and several months later.

Building on the evidence-based approach of interACT, I recently created and evaluated a new proactive presentation on stalking prevention. A predatory crime that that affects 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men, stalking is especially problematic on college campuses because victims are most likely to be 25 years old or younger (Stalking Resource Center). The interACT stalking prevention program is the first of its kind, and the preliminary data is promising. Using pre and posttest surveys and open-ended questionnaires with 500 CSULB students, we found that participants had an increased operational knowledge of stalking, a greater sense of agency, and less endorsement of stalking-related myths. In addition, following the presentation participants could readily identify predatory behaviors and felt confident that they could apply what they learned to real-life scenarios. The results of this cutting-edge research is expected to be published in 2017.

Teacher and students huddle around an interACT poster.
(L-R): Students Andy, Alexie, Tori, Barry, Michael, and Dr. Rich (kneeling)

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