The interACT sexual assault prevention program is an interactive, skill-building performance based on the pedagogy of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. It helps audience members recognize the warning signs of abusive relations, better understand how individuals feel after being raped, and learn how to effectively intervene in order to prevent assaults. It is currently performed by students at California State University of Long Beach.
|Program Name||Level of Evidence||Format||Target Audience||Special Features|
|Supported By Evidence||
||Interactive theatrical performance|
This program aims to:
The interACT performance is presented in two parts: first, two semi-scripted scenes are presented. One presents a sexual assault perpetrated by a male college student and the second displays a woman confessing to a friend that her boyfriend assaulted her. Then, several interactive scenes are used to invite audience members are invited to come on stage with actor-educators to try to prevent sexual assault from occurring in the scenario, to better understand the experiences of a survivor, and to comfort a survivor. This allows audience members to have a safe space to rehearse assertive communication strategies. Following the performance the facilitator discusses effective strategies for bystander intervention. Note: the program features a same-sex couple in one scenario and although it features a racially diverse cast, the program content does not explicitly address race or disability. These issues are all addressed explicitly in the discussion following the performance.
While the performance can be held in front of a large group, a smaller audience might contribute to a more intimate experience.
InterACT is based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The performance was developed in collaboration with experts in sexual trauma and seeks to respond to recent calls for the development of more interactive, dynamic rape prevention programs. The structure and content of the performance take into account recommendations that have emerged from successful bystander intervention programming.
Two evaluation studies have been conducted on the efficacy of the interACT. Most recently, a study using non-experimental design was published in a peer-reviewed journal. The study demonstrated significant improvement on some, but not all, outcome measures. The program significantly increased both men and women’s confidence in their ability to intervene as a bystander, participants’ perception of the helpfulness of bystander intervention, self-reported likelihood of engaging in bystander intervention and their perceived willingness to help a potential abuse victim. There were no significant differences on participant’s subscription to rape myths or participants’ perception of the personal benefits of intervention. The researchers demonstrated that these benefits were more pronounced among those with initial lower beliefs about the helpfulness of bystander intervention. A previous study demonstrated similar results using an experimental design. A qualitative study using focus groups highlighted men's reactions to interACT.
There is a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of this program and it also has robust theoretical underpinnings. This innovative approach can also be integrated into academic programming for theater and education departments. Still, this program needs to be offered in conjunction with other programming since it is unlikely to reach the entire campus.
InterACT is performed by a troupe based out of California State University at Long Beach. They accept requests to perform around the country for audiences as big as 1,400 people. For each performance they require airfare, accommodations, ground transportation and a stipend. For more information, contact Marc D. Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ahrens, C.E., Rich M.D. & Ullman, J.B. (2011). Rehearsing for Real Life: The Impact of the InterACT Sexual Assault Prevention Program on Self-Reported Likelihood of Engaging in Bystander Interventions. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(6), 760-776. doi: 10.1177/1077801211410212
Rich, M.D. (2010). The interACT model: Considering rape prevention from a performance activism and social justice perspective. Feminism & Psychology, 20(4), 511-528. doi: 10.1177/0959353510371366
Rich, M.D. & Rodriguez, J.I. (2007). A proactive approach to peer education: The efficacy of sexual assault intervention programs. In L. R. Frey & K. M. Carragee (Eds.), Communication Activism Media and Performance Activism, 2, 315-344. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Retrieved from: http://www.cla.csulb.edu/departments/communicationstudies/interact/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/A-PROACTIVE-PERFORMANCE-APPROACH-TO-PEER-EDUCATION-The-Efficacy-of-A-Sexual-Assault-Intervention-Program1.pdf
Rich, M., Utley, E., Janke, K. & Moldoveanu, M. (2010) “’I’d Rather Be Doing Something Else:’ Male Resistance to Rape Prevention Programs.” The Journal of Men’s Studies, 18(3), 269-289. doi: 10.3149/jms.1803.268
Rich, M.D., Robinson, L., Ahrens , C.E. & Rodriguez, J.I. (2008). “Proactive Performance to Prevent Sexual Assault: The Role of Masculinity in Violence Prevention”, in Intercultural Communication: A Reader (12th Edition) Eds Larry Samovar , Richard Porter and E. McDaniel. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.