The Role of Institutional Courage in Harassment Prevention

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This lecture from Dr. Jennifer Freyd was organized by the USGS Civility and Inclusion Council. Dr. Freyd’s research investigates predictions made by betrayal trauma theory. In recent years, Freyd has focused especially on institutional betrayal and its antidote at the institutional level: institutional courage. The lecture describes this work and engages listeners to become more trauma informed, particularly from the perspective of learning about impacts of institutional betrayal and promoting institutional courage. Content warning: discussion of sexual assault.
 

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Date Taken:

Length: 01:05:31

Location Taken: Reston, VA, US

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Copyright © 2020, Jennifer J. Freyd. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license

Transcript

0:00
This is Alex Etheridge and I'm welcoming everybody to
0:03
today's webinar on The Role of Institutional Courage in Harassment Prevention
0:09
and our Presenter is Dr. Jennifer Freyd
0:14
Thanks also to
0:15
Ralph Roland from the Office of Employee Development helping to get connected to WebEx
0:24
We had scheduled this to take place in person and we moved it online due to
0:29
the pandemic situation so I appreciate everybody's flexibility with that
0:34
So I am happy to introduce Dr. Fryed on behalf of
0:39
the USGS Civility and Inclusion Council. We are an employee led liaison that
0:45
interacts with the anti-harassment executive steering group at USGS
0:50
our council has arranged this educational seminar as part of
0:54
many efforts ongoing in the Department of Interior working towards a
0:58
workplace culture transformation and so we're excited to hear
1:03
about Dr. Freyd's work
1:05
on institutional courage and all the related topics you've been working on for years
1:10
So thank you Dr. Freyd for being with us today and I'll let you take it away.
1:17
... Sorry - One other thing is that
1:19
everybody is going to be muted when they enter so if you have questions,
1:24
please type them into the participant
1:26
chat and we'll get to them at the end. Thank you.  [Dr. Freyd] Thank you very much for
1:31
inviting me to be here and for those of you who are attending for giving me your time.
1:39
I really appreciate your concern about these issues. What I am going to do today is tell you about some research I've been conducting
1:57
really for almost 30 years
2:00
That will take us to this idea of institutional courage and how it can be applied
2:05
to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace
2:07
I'm going to start by going way back to some
2:12
early theories and research that I conducted on interpersonal violence
2:17
I'll do this with five very short chapters each
2:22
talking about concepts and research as outlined on this slide
2:27
So we're going to start with Betrayal Trauma Theory & Betrayal Blindness
2:31
This is work that I began in the early 1990s and it was.. at
2:36
the time I was a professor of psychology
2:40
focusing on perception and memory not
2:48
Not trauma - basic issues of perception and memory
2:52
Also at that time there was increased interest in a phenomenon that
2:56
has been documented for very long time but was of current interest
3:06
This is an article from NY Times from 1992. Frank Fitzpatrick began remembering having been sexually molested... (see slide)
3:26
"I remembered the sound of heavy breathing" ... (see slide)
3:31
(final blurb on slide)
3:36
(final blurb on slide) [Freyd] I was very struck by the fact that as a memory
3:43
psychologist I had not really been
3:45
exposed to research on how and why
3:50
individuals had remained unaware of or forgetful of traumas they'd experienced and I began to develop a research program to answer that question as well as the related question of
4:06
why are some traumas forgotten and not others? The case I just told you about was very
4:11
well documented
4:12
that the memories were very well corroborated
4:19
and it begged the question of: this seemed like a very important event
4:23
as in how could you forget something so important and then remember it?
4:29
As I delved into this, I developed a theory called Betrayal Trauma Theory that attempted to answer the "How"
4:33
Question understanding the cognitive mechanisms, and the "Why" Question which
4:38
is why would we behave this way? and I really actually think the "why" question became the more
4:42
interesting intellectual question because we are designed in so many ways to
4:47
be memory machines. And you know humans have trouble when their memory is failing them
4:53
in fact they can't continue to
4:56
survive without great help when they have serious memory problems.
5:00
So it really was a puzzle to me. And the answer I came up with was really the core of Betrayal Trauma Theory. And it asks when to consider
5:11
two aspects of our humanity
5:15
One is our exquisite sensitivity to betrayal
5:20
We are a very social species. We have multiple interactions
5:23
the same people and organizations and it's part of our
5:29
survival mechanisms to be sensitive
5:32
to the extent to which the contracts we're making with others whether formal or informal
5:39
are fulfilled. If they're not we're being betrayed.
5:42
And, being sensitive to this allows us to take protective measures
5:47
so we can typically if we're empowered we'll respond
5:53
to betrayal by confronting the betrayer or withdrawing. So you may go to a store they don't
5:59
give you proper change or they give you a bad product... you demand that they make it
6:04
right or you'll never go shop at that store again. Similarly in a relationship
6:09
if your partner cheats on you, you either have a big argument and demand correction or you
6:15
leave that relationship. That's the adaptive response for an empowered person
6:24
to protect themselves from future betrayals, which is very costly. At the same time,
6:26
Another aspect of our humanity is our incredible dependence on other people
6:31
at different points in the life span
6:34
In infancy we are exceedingly dependent on caretakers
6:38
In fact humans cannot survive
6:41
without a caretaker for even 5 minutes alone
6:45
say in the woods. They'll be eaten. And they're not going to survive more than
6:49
a day or so without being fed. And this dependence has the nature of
6:55
one person and giving enormous resources to another. It's very expensive to give all those resources but caretakers can be very motivated to do so. That motivation operates through the "attachment system".
7:12
It is operative in a lot of animals
7:14
It's developed in humans. It's hard-wired. It's part of our biology
7:19
In the attachment system you actually have a kind of reciprocal relationship in that
7:24
the baby does things that reward the caregiver.
7:28
The person receiving goods
7:30
approaches with positive engagement makes the right smile
7:34
called eye fixation and coos in the case of a baby. And those behaviors we experience as love but they are
7:42
necessary for keeping that relationship functional. An adult, even mature,
7:47
well-intentioned is going to have trouble expending the enormous resources involved in care-giving without that reinforcement.
7:55
We always have degrees of dependence. We remain dependent on our roads, our banks, our government all the time. What varies is the degree of dependence. What happens when the dependent person
8:14
is betrayed
8:16
by the person they're dependent on? This creates a bind
8:20
between the betrayal detection system and the attachment system because betrayal detection
8:26
demands confrontation
8:26
and withdrawal whereas attachment demands approach and
8:31
engagement and these are really polar opposites. This is where betrayal blindness
8:36
comes in. Betrayal blindness is a way out of this bind
8:40
It basically allows the attachment system to override betrayal detection, and this is another layer of survival b/c
8:49
life depends or can depend on maintaining that positive bond with that
8:56
person or system providing necessary resources. So betrayal blindness
9:01
is adaptive. It lasts for short-run survival but it comes
9:06
at a long line cost.
9:09
This way of understanding trauma really changes what we
9:14
consider traumatic. Historically
9:17
trauma was understood as events that were terrorizing, fear inducing
9:22
inducing, life-threatening, such as natural disasters and accidents,
9:27
and acts of grave interpersonal violence. Social betrayal is a separate dimension of
9:33
events that can also be traumatizing in this other way and
9:38
events can be high in both fear and social betrayal or low in
9:44
one or low in the other
9:46
and still all be traumas. The nature of betrayal trauma theory and
9:51
betrayal blindness relates to some predictions about where we'd be most
9:56
likely to be forgetting. We'd be most likely to be forgetting when
10:01
the betrayal is high
10:04
and individuals are going
10:07
to gain some short-run advantage by forgetting or being unaware of a trauma that allows them to stay connected with a person or system they depend upon. We tested this in many studies and found
10:21
that betrayal blindness is pervasive.
10:23
Victims, perpetrators, and witnesses
10:25
engage in betrayal blindness in order to relationships upon which they depend. We also found that betrayal is quite toxic. So it's not only associated with forgetting
10:38
or not disclosing, but a host of other mental health and physical symptoms
10:43
including anxiety and
10:45
shame, physical illness, and behaviors such as self harm
10:50
and problematic substance use. Furthermore people who've had a lot of betrayal are
10:55
unfortunately at higher risk of having more betrayal experiences. It's also quite gendered. Women and girls are at much higher risk than men and boys for high betrayal exposure.
11:06
I should add that men and boys
11:09
are at higher risk of traumas with low betrayal. So the overall trauma rates aren't that different for the genders, but the type of traumas they're getting exposed to really varies.
11:22
Alright that's a summary of
11:25
a couple of decades of research really focusing
11:28
on interpersonal betrayal and now I'm going to switch to institutional betrayal.
11:32
This is defined in our research as when institutions are essentially the perpetrators of
11:38
a trauma, harming
11:39
those dependent on the institution. This can include
11:43
the failure to prevent or respond supportively to wrongdoing within the institution when there's a reasonable
11:48
expectation of protection. And most of our most important institutions do give
11:54
us reasons to expect some protection, whether they're law enforcement, our schools
11:59
our governments, our churches. We measure institutional betrayal with a questionnaire that is ... we don't ask people 'were you
12:12
harassed, were you assaulted', we don't ask them 'were you betrayed?' Instead we describe various
12:17
kinds of behaviors and ask them if they've been subjected
12:20
to these behaviors. The institutional betrayal questionnaire works
12:24
when somebody says they were say sexually harassed within an institution
12:29
and then we ask furthermore the
12:32
institution's potential behavior around it. Items include things
12:38
like not taking proactive steps to prevent the type of experience,
12:42
all the way to more retaliatory and punishing sort of behaviors
12:46
such as covering up the experience or punishing you in some way
12:50
for having this experience. What we have learned from this research is that institutional betrayal exacerbates trauma symptoms. What you see in
13:02
this graph here is sexual assault has a continuous measure where
13:09
the higher the number, the more sexual assault an individual has been exposed to
13:14
in this case within a particular institutional context, in this case,
13:19
within a university context and a symptom
13:24
anxiety in this case, and the higher, the more you have. And we looked at
13:28
individual's past sexual assault w/o institutional betrayal or w/ institutional betrayal
13:33
and you can see that institutional betrayal exacerbates the
13:37
symptoms of anxiety compared to no institutional betrayal, and it's a similar pattern with other
13:43
common trauma symptoms
13:45
we see this pattern for physical health problems as well. When people have been exposed to trauma with institutional betrayal, they're having more health problems than when they're exposed to trauma without that institutional betrayal. In a study in another lab using US Veterans,
14:04
in which military sexual trauma survivors
14:07
were compared with those who had or had not had institutional betrayal,
14:12
those with institutional betrayal experiences
14:15
had more PTSD symptoms, more depression, and higher odds of attempting suicide. This may seem kind of surprising
14:24
but in fact, what we were hearing even before this study was that military sexual trauma
14:31
survivors saying things like 'I went and I joined the force but
14:36
I wanted to serve my country I, but I was assaulted or raped by a
14:41
commanding officer or fellow service person, but
14:45
what was even worse was when I tried to report it and
14:49
get some justice or some help.' When somebody says something is even worse, than sexual assault
14:54
or rape, that is significant and it shifts with the
14:57
data we have seen in our lab that the behavior of institutions can really impact people negatively when there's betrayal involved. We've also seen that institutional betrayal
15:11
is costly to the institution, especially in the long-term.
15:15
There's disengagement
15:16
from the system, illness, absenteeism, turnover of talent, loss
15:21
of potential in the workforce, and with enough time, a kind of
15:25
internal rot or corruption and eventual collapse of
15:34
society organizations do pay a cost when it
15:39
comes to light that the mishandling of situations like sexual assault
15:44
but other times in history, there has not been much cost. So it's really the
15:49
pressure of the outside world on institutions.
15:56
We've also found that there is a kind
15:58
of institutional betrayal blindness in that individuals
16:02
who stay in an institution where they've experienced betrayal are more likely to
16:07
show dissociative symptoms. These are symptoms such as
16:10
unawareness and forgetting, even when we control for their interpersonal betrayal trauma exposure. And I just wanted to
16:19
end this little chapter with a thought about our vulnerability. And the snake here on this
16:25
picture here is to remind me of an example
16:29
I use in thinking about this. I happen to love boa constrictors and I've had a number boa constrictor pets and they're, I think one reason I love them besides the
16:38
fact that they're beautiful, is that I experience boa constrictors
16:42
as very cuddly. If I pick up a boa constrictor, it will tend to wrap around me
16:48
and that's very much like being hugged or cuddled. Now I know intellectually that to the boa constrictor, I'm
16:55
just a big warm tree. That is, I'm too big to eat, but the boa constrictor
17:00
probably had no emotional bonding with me, but I am a mammal, a human mammal
17:05
I can't help but experience a hug and have a kind of
17:10
interpersonal meaning. But to me, it's as if the boa constrictor is loving me. But the boa constrictor is not.
17:18
It just wants my warmth. The reason I have this here is in
17:23
thinking about institutions. When I am interacting with an
17:26
important institution in my life I tend to form a very strong emotional
17:31
attachment to that institution.
17:33
I may love my school or my church or my government but
17:38
that doesn't mean the institution loves me back. In fact, institutions do not have the capacity to love. They have even less capacity to love than a snake.
17:47
They don't have central nervous systems, they don't have emotion.
17:50
There are people in institutions that have those things. But institutions themselves
17:55
cannot return the love. We're designed to form attachments to systems we depend on. There's nothing wrong about it, it's just the way
18:04
we're designed, but it makes us
18:07
uniquely vulnerable, I believe, to what happens when we interact with institutions.
18:13
I want to mention a few things we've
18:16
learned from numerous studies that we've conducted with undergraduates which is where
18:20
I've been situated and some of these do generalize to
18:25
other populations. One study that we ran in 2015 was a campus-wide
18:30
study where we looked at various forms of victimization that people might have experienced
18:35
as well as institutional betrayal and what we found was, as
18:40
so many studies have found, that we had high rates
18:44
of victimization during the college years for undergraduates, either
18:49
different kinds of victimization types, the bottom two are kinds of
18:53
sexual harassment depending on who perpetrated
18:57
and there's various kinds of sexual and behavioral
19:02
victimization and in every case we found our female students were
19:06
reporting much higher-rates of these kind of experiences. I want to again emphasize that
19:11
we don't ask people 'were you sexually harassed?' we describe behaviors that constitute sexual harassment.
19:16
These asterisks refer to statistical significance. In every single case we have significantly higher rates for female students,
19:27
(undergraduates).
19:28
We also looked at the graduate students and we again saw a
19:33
higher risk for our female than male students. But you may note that this looks from the last slide. What I am going to show you in this
19:41
next slide is just female students. Now we're just looking at undergraduate
19:46
versus graduate students and the significance
19:49
here now refers to whether undergraduate and graduate students have significantly
19:54
different levels of risk. Generally
19:56
undergraduates are more at risk for all kinds of victimization except in one
20:00
case graduate students are at higher risk. And that is sexual or gender based
20:05
harassment by faculty and staff. This reall does
20:10
relate to a lot of workplace situations because graduate students are working with
20:15
faculty and staff in many ways as if they're in a workplace. In many ways it's
20:19
also a story about power and opportunity because undergraduates
20:24
are in situations with many other undergraduates. There's
20:28
many more opportunities for bad things to happen, but graduate students are in a
20:34
uniquely
20:35
power asymmetric situation with faculty and staff.
20:39
We found that sexual harassment of graduate students by faculty and staff,
20:44
even when we control for other forms of victimization, is associated with several problems:
20:52
feeling unsafe, trauma symptoms,
20:54
and, getting even more additional institutional betrayal. What I'm trying to say is that sexual harassment by faculty and staff is itself a kind of overt institutional betrayal, because what you
21:05
have is a more powerful member of the institution who is harming a less
21:10
a less powerful member, and from the less powerful member's perspective,
21:14
the weight of the institution may be coming along with that harm.
21:20
We also know that betrayal risk is associated
21:23
social status beyond just gender. So race, ethnicity, sexual orientation are
21:28
risk factors. And for some people, who have, depending on their social identity, they may have double
21:34
and triple the jeopardy of being harassed or assaulted. Here's some data from undergraduates where we look at sexual assault
21:43
by gender and sexual orientation. And you can see that female gender
21:48
is a risk factor across the board. But for
21:51
males, being non-heterosexual
21:53
is a big risk factor. It basically doubles the rate of
21:58
sexual assault for men in college to be
22:04
not straight. For the same populous now
22:07
looking at institutional betrayal by gender and sexual orientation, here we see again the
22:16
group with the highest risk is our not-straight female undergraduates.
22:21
It's a much higher risk of institutional betrayal.
22:28
Institutional and interpersonal betrayal is arguably part of the
22:32
maintenance of the power structure, and I believe this is one of the reasons there is great resistance
22:37
to change.
22:39
I want to go to chapter
22:41
4 now in which I'll talk a little bit about disclosure and DARVO. Whenever you
22:47
talk about trauma, whether it's any kind of interpersonal stigmatized trauma,
22:52
the issue of disclosure takes an important
22:56
position. If people have great difficulties  disclosing these experiences.
23:02
There is a fundamental problem we have. Without
23:06
reporting, it's difficult to stop assault and harassment.
23:09
And, in so many cases we know
23:13
that reporting is rare. For instance, in that study I told you about with the sexually harassed graduate students,
23:18
only 6% reported the harassment to university sources, leaving 94% who did not report it at all. In a study with undergraduates, a different data set,
23:30
we looked at students, 189 students who had experienced sexual
23:34
victimization on campus, only 50
23:37
had told anyone at all before our anonymous survey. If you look at who they told, they told other students and friends, some family members. but essentially almost
23:50
no university members. I mean it was under 10. Again it's just a very very low percentage of
23:59
students who are reporting their experiences.
24:02
This means they're not able to get services, it's more difficult to
24:07
stop this victimization from continuing.
24:10
So why aren't they reporting? Well, it can of course lead to a good
24:15
to report. But it is fundamentally risky. We know from
24:20
quite a bit of research that a bad response actually
24:24
makes things worse for the victim. So if you look at, for instance, adult rape survivors and ask
24:29
how are they doing down the road, after they've been raped,
24:33
probably the biggest predictor
24:36
is the social response that they got after the rape
24:39
as opposed to the details about the rape itself. So when the social response is bad,
24:46
they just do a lot worse. In fact a bad
24:49
response can be a new betrayal trauma. And when it comes from the institution, it's actually part of how we define institutional betrayal. What are harmful responses? Well,
25:00
some are pretty obvious: blaming the person, invalidating them for what
25:04
they're telling you, punching them for telling you. But there's other responses that research shows are harmful and may not be so obvious. In fact people may do these things with good intention.
25:16
These include not acknowledging and changing the topic, minimizing
25:20
reassurances, turning the discussion to themselves, and taking away control from the survivor. And that could take the form of 'What, he did that to you? I'm going to go
25:30
beat him up, or I'm going to go
25:32
tell somebody else.' We know that taking away control from the survivor is one of the most potentially damaging things you can do to somebody. The good news is
25:44
that well-intentioned, but untold listeners can soon learn to
25:48
become much better listeners. We've done a number of studies looking at ways to educate people.
25:53
And I've made available tips and discussion guides on how people
25:58
can become better at receiving
26:01
disclosures of difficult events from other people. And I would add that often, these harmful responses seem
26:10
to be in part coming from individuals trying to manage their own anxiety, because when somebody comes and tells you
26:16
they've been sexually harassed or they've been assaulted or some other kind of betrayal trauma,
26:21
it's anxiety provoking and it's natural to want to manage one's own anxiety.
26:26
So part of the tips that we provide are better ways to manage anxiety that are not going to be
26:31
harmful to the person making the disclosure. Unfortunately, some of the responses are harmful and are
26:38
not well-intentioned.
26:39
And one form it can take is what I calle DARVO. DARVO stands for Deny,
26:45
Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.
26:47
And it's a perpetrator strategy used to deflect accountability
26:52
by discrediting victims and avoiding blame. So
26:56
it takes the form of: Deny - 'It never happened' or perhaps 'Yes she wanted me to do that'
27:01
or 'It wasn't bad.' Attack: this is usually attacking the credibility of the individual, so,
27:06
'You're a liar, your memory's wrong,  you're doing for some anterior motive.'
27:18
So the person being accused takes the victim role and accuses
27:23
that person making the allegation of - in some way - causing harm to them. And there's a website address there where you
27:37
can read more.
27:38
We've been doing research, although it was an idea I had
27:42
back in the 90s based on observation. We've been
27:45
doing research more recently on DARVO. And in one study we found that DARVO by
27:51
the perpetrator is associated with victim self blame. This is concerning because it means that when people get DARVO'ed, they're more likely to blame themselves, and we know from other research that self blame is
28:03
associated with self silencing as well. In a study in press, Harsey and I have found that for third parties who get exposed to a story about a
28:14
victimization when there's DARVO present, they're more likely to doubt the victim's
28:31
credibility. The good news is we've also
28:34
found in research that if we educate people about DARVO, it reduces its power to discredit the victim's
28:41
credibility. And for that reason, I encourage people to be paying attention to DARVO and to identify it when they see it. It probably will help to be saying it. When institutions
28:56
engage in DARVO, that's institutional DARVO, and an example
29:01
is like when the police charge rape victims with
29:03
lying, which happens unfortunately, all too often.
29:08
And, it's particularly dangerous form of institutional betrayal.
29:15
If you want to know more, there's also a fun DARVO explainer on South Park. I woke up one morning to a bunch of emails saying 'You were on South Park last night!' In fact, I wasn't on South Park, but my concept of DARVO was, and they did a pretty good job with it.
29:29
Okay - Sorry this should be 5-Institutional Courage. This is the final chapter and this is what I'm most excited to tell you about. So what can we do about all this?
29:42
Can we prevent harassment and institutional betrayal? Well it's easy to drown in betrayal or to
29:49
succumb to betrayal blindness.
29:51
But neither of those responses help prevent harassment or betrayal. Neither of them take on the problem or try to
29:59
fix it. Hope, awareness, and action are essential
30:02
to make a change here and this is where institutional courage comes in.
30:06
Institutional courage is an institution's commitment to seek the truth
30:10
and engage in moral actions despite unpleasantness, risk, and short-term cost.
30:16
It's a pledge to protect and care for those who depend on the institution. It's a compass oriented
30:22
to the common good of individuals, institutions, and the world, and it's a force that transforms institutions
30:28
into more equitable, accountable places for everyone.
30:33
What does it look like? Well it comes down to concrete
30:37
actions and here are 10 steps that
30:42
I have articulated
30:44
to promote institutional courage. I am sure that there are additional steps we'll
30:49
discover and, people will need to engage in, but these give us a start.
30:54
So #1 is to comply with laws but to go beyond mere compliance. For instance we have civil rights laws
31:01
such as title VII, but with a check-box  mentality
31:06
they won't do much good. Related to that, is to beware of risk
31:11
management mindsets
31:13
- try to go to the
31:15
spirit of the law and keep that
31:17
in the forefront. #2 is Education. An awful lot of institutional
31:22
betrayal occurs through ignorance, so the more
31:26
a community is educated about victimization and institutional behaviors
31:31
the less institutional betrayal there will that's produced by ignorance.
31:37
And this is especially important for leadership. #3 Respond well to victim disclosures. And again, people can learn
31:45
to do this, and a related issue is having trauma-informed reporting policies.
31:50
Often, reporting policies are
31:52
really, almost engineered to be traumatizing to your victims. #4 Bear witness,
31:59
be accountable, and apologize. This is essential. And I'll
32:04
come in a moment to an example of where apology can make such a difference.
32:09
Number 5 is Cherish the Truth Tellers. We keep making a mistake in our society
32:15
of shooting
32:16
the messenger. When somebody comes and says there's a
32:20
problem, they're doing the institution a great favor. And need to be acknowledged and rewarded as opposed to punished
32:29
and ignored.
32:31
We do this in a few domains in society very well.
32:34
We hire people in the software industry to find bugs
32:38
and then we pay them when they find bugs. The logic is the same. We just need to do this
32:44
in domains such as sexual harassment. #6 Conduct
32:49
scientifically sound anonymous surveys. Higher education has started to move in this
32:54
direction and I believe that in perhaps your organization it's
33:00
really important make sure these are anonymous because people are going to be afraid of
33:05
the truth otherwise. And scientifically sound
33:09
includes for instance using
33:11
behavioral items to capture the full range of people's experiences. #7
33:17
regularly engage in self study. This means that organizations, depending on their
33:22
size will have committees or individuals whose responsibility it is to
33:27
- on a regular basis - engage in some kind of deliberative process to ask:
33:33
Are we creating institutional betrayal or
33:38
institutional courage? #8 be transparent about data
33:42
and policy. Sexual harassment and corruption thrive in secrecy.
33:48
So transparency is hugely important. And while individual privacy often needs to be protected, aggregate data and policies should be very very accessible
34:00
to all stakeholders. #9 Use the organization to address the societal problem. This is going to vary somewhat depending on what the
34:09
organization does, what resources they have, but
34:13
often an organization can go beyond their own boundaries to help the world,
34:18
the larger world with a problem. And, this is obvious in the case of research universities
34:23
and on this topic, they can be doing a lot more to research this problem.
34:30
The entertainment industry could be doing a lot more.
34:34
Number 10 is commit ongoing resources to these steps. None
34:39
of this is deeply expensive, none of it free. I want to tell you, conclude with a case study.
34:52
This is a case that goes back to 1998.
34:56
Brenda Tracy was living in Corvalis, OR and was right next to
35:01
Oregon State University. I should say my job was with the University of Oregon, not Oregon State. It's a different school but they're very similar
35:10
and not that far apart.
35:11
In 1998, Tracy reported to police that she'd been gang raped
35:16
at a party. Two of the accused assailants were Oregon State University football players.
35:21
Prosecutors led her to believe the case was weaker than it was, rape kits were destroyed, had a one-game suspension and community service.
35:28
one-game suspension and community service. No one from OSU talked to Tracy.
35:33
So that was 1998. She went on with her life, but she was paying a big price for this
35:40
experience. Both the rape, and the way she was treated after the rape.
35:45
She got a nursing degree, she raised two children, and then she found herself in 2014 when suddenly there was a lot of
35:54
national discussion
35:55
about college sexual assault. And she got up the nerve to call up OSU and ask
36:00
what had happened to her case.
36:02
First they were evasive.
36:05
She had an opportunity to talk to a sports columnist at
36:09
the main newspaper in Oregon, the Oregonian, named
36:13
John Canzano. He wrote a column about the case, and when it was published, I am sure many many copies were sent to the president
36:21
of OSU, named Ed Ray. What was different was that Ed Ray
36:27
rather than trying to get into a defensive
36:30
posture, ordered an investigation to find out what had happened in this case, and 3 weeks later, he met with Brenda Tracy
36:37
and shared the results of the investigation. Not only that,
36:41
he wrote an apology letter. He wrote: 'Dear Brenda, OSU officials are very grateful that you took the time to meet with us. We're so sorry
36:49
for what you experienced
36:50
in 1998 and have lived with since. What we have learned recently of your suffering
36:55
is heartbreaking, and your bravery inspires us. We're also grateful to you for raising the public dialogue in our society and for raising a discussion of how society can better assist survivors of such violence.
37:08
While we cannot undo this nightmare, we apologize to you for
37:12
any failure on Oregon State University's part to better assist you in 1998. So that second sentence there is an apology sentence. I am sure lawyers climbed all over it, but
37:22
I think that this sentence threads the needle quite well.
37:28
And it comes across as sincere, or at least it did to Brenda Tracy. The letter went on: [see slide] ...
37:39
16 years ago [see slide] ... He wrote that letter, but he didn't stop there. After that Ed Ray
37:51
hired Brenda Tracy to be a consultant to address improving institutional responses.
37:57
And together, they accomplished many important changes. What this example shows are a number of the 10 steps
38:07
There was an investigation and transparency
38:10
There was acknowledgement and apology. There was a
38:14
cherish-the-truth-teller, cherish-the-whistleblower component, with the hiring of
38:20
Brenda Tracy. They also reached beyond the confines
38:23
of their organization. They went to the state legislature
38:27
and supported legislation. They created new structures on their campus,
38:33
and, it increased the awareness on campus of
38:36
the issues and lead to a much more open atmosphere. Brenda Tracy had gone on to tour the country, working with other organizations, particularly football teams to promote
38:50
these sorts of changes.
38:52
So I do believe that it's really actually difficult to
38:57
end sexual harassment and assault in just a moment
39:02
it's going to take time. It's a true challenge. We can in fact end institutional
39:07
betrayal relatively quickly by nurturing institutional courage. One big difference is that
39:14
when we're talking about institutions, we know what our institutions are.
39:18
They're formed by grown-ups, they have resources, they have structures
39:23
They're much more retractable and interpersonal dynamics. And if we replace institutional betrayal with
39:30
institutional courage, it's going to be much better for individuals and better for, I believe, institutions,
39:35
and we can bend the world in this direction. It's really a crucial
39:39
step in the right direction. For those of you who would you like
39:44
to know more about these topics,
39:46
I have put all the articles we've published in full text form on my website. And most of the measurement instruments we've developed
39:56
are there, too. And I finally, just want to mention that just recently I have
40:02
with this incredible team, formed a new nonprofit, the Center for Institutional Courage. It has both
40:07
research and outreach missions and you're very welcome to visit our website
40:13
institutionalcourage.org as well.  And now I would be extremely pleased to take your questions and I thank you so much for your attention.
40:26
Thank you Dr. Freyd
40:30
So again, everybody's on mute by default and if you have a question
40:35
please type it in the chat.
40:39
And, I did come up with one question while you were talking
40:44
I'll give others an opportunity to think of their questions. So
40:50
with the 10 steps towards institutional courage - I was looking at those,
40:54
thinking about what could an individual employee do
40:59
to foster institutional courage?
41:00
Yeah - that's a good question and I have seen some
41:08
examples of what employees
41:10
can do that are really inspiring. Courage usually does
41:17
start with an individual and what
41:20
often has to happen next is some form of solidarity. So if the individual is the president of
41:30
the university, they're in a very powerful position to do a lot
41:34
just as an individual because of their power position, but if the individual
41:39
is say a janitor or a student or even a single professor
41:44
at the university or comparable in any other kind of setting,
41:52
as a single individual to change the whole system. They can try, and sometimes it does work,
41:58
but what is almost always more effective is when that lone person who dares to speak up is then joined
42:07
by other people. And as soon as
42:10
there gets to be some larger number than one,
42:15
there's solidarity and groups can do enormous things.
42:20
For example, a group of faculty at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, took it upon themselves, essentially, to demonstrate institutional
42:32
courage in context where their university administration was failing to do so. The context was a student had been, I believe it was
42:41
sexually harassed by a staff member and the
42:45
university was responding poorly. The professors got together and they wrote a joint letter that eventually was signed by 100 people.
42:55
And their letter basically said to the world that they apologized on behalf of the
43:05
institution for what had happened.
43:08
So rather than casting aspersion deep among the administration
43:14
employees took the position: we are the institution and we can stay at the institution. Now that would be a little easier to do
43:24
in higher education than in some settings, but there was a comparable thing that happened
43:29
recently
43:30
at a nonprofit in the United States. Mercy Corps is a
43:35
large nonprofit and it does work locally. There was a very sad
43:41
situation where the daughter of a
43:45
the leader of Mercy Corps had repeatedly brought to the attention of the
43:50
leadership that she'd been sexually abused by her father and the
43:54
response had been very very poor - to ignore her and not
43:59
not ... and to cover it up and so on, but eventually she got
44:04
the attention of employees at Mercy Corps and together
44:08
banded together and demonstrated their support for her and
44:13
as soon as they did  that, as soon as that group of employees got together in that way, they really created more pressure
44:23
on the organization to take action, and it was effective.
44:26
You know there's always
44:27
a risk when people do that. There is a risk that they'll
44:31
leave their jobs or be punished. That's why I use the word 'courage' for
44:36
all of it. There's real risk in trying to change systems and I really
44:41
encourage people, unless they have a ton of power to use the
44:45
power of solidarity. So they're not putting themselves out there all by themselves.
44:51
Thank you. I have another question that came in: How can
44:56
we create a trauma-informed reporting system while also staying
45:01
in line with official reporting guidelines? [Freyd] Yeah so this is something that I know a lot more about
45:08
in the educational context than any other but, I know for the
45:14
educational context, we tackled this very problem, and we were able to come up with a policy that was in line with the
45:22
guiding legal regime for education called Title IX
45:27
and that changed the standard reporting policy
45:31
has become very popular, and still is, to require every single employee as a mandatory reporter if they
45:39
learn of sexual harassment or assault from a student. And this is not at all
45:44
trauma-informed. It takes power away
45:46
from the survivor and it's harmful in a number of ways. We came up with an alternative policy that designated some employees as mandatory, but
45:55
created a large group of employees, most rapidly, who were required
46:00
to do what the student wanted, as well as to provide certain resources
46:04
and take other steps, and it
46:07
It was accepted by the Office of Civil Rights
46:10
when we consulted with them
46:12
One of the ways we managed to do this
46:14
was having some legal scholars help us figure out how to do this.
46:20
So if Title VII is your
46:23
guiding regime here, I would recommend getting legal scholars who know how to work with Title VII.
46:30
If it's not possible then, ultimately
46:35
we need to change those regulations because it's not going to solve the problem by having reporting policies that cause additional harm and that silence and chill reporting.
46:50
Another question I thought of was how
46:55
our chains of command in USGS,
46:59
where we all work,
47:00
can be reliant on your direct supervisor as that
47:04
that first point of institutional courage.
47:08
And, it's kind of siloed in that way where
47:11
obviously we've got some
47:13
some push toward culture transformation and leadership is working
47:17
on these kind of topics, but the individual
47:21
can be the determining factor on whether or not courage is shown in a given instance so,
47:28
do you have any thoughts on dealing with that?
47:34
I mean I don't know
47:38
probably enough about the details of the work context, but are you saying there are not any alternative routes, that you have to go through one individual?
47:50
I think I'm actually also trying to contribute to the discussion, and I would agree that there are alternative routes
47:58
where our policy about reporting harassment - if you
48:04
if you report it to any supervisor that is a valid route.
48:08
of reporting so
48:11
that if you know that one may be the person that may not respond
48:18
with courage,
48:20
you could go around and see if you could report to somebody else. [Freyd] I think the other thing that relates to your last question and this one too is
48:32
even if you've got a pretty restrictive
48:36
policy, having the individuals in the role of receiving the report, having them educated about the underlying needs
48:45
of victims and about the
48:49
time course for people -- one of the things that always strikes me about these policies that's so not-trauma-informed
48:58
is not only the issue of control, but the timing. When individuals have
49:03
been severely
49:05
traumatized, it's very rare that they're going to be able to,
49:10
the next day, talk about it to the whole world. People
49:14
often just need quite a bit of time and support before they're going to be in
49:18
that space. Where they can do that. And so if the system really wants the victims to
49:25
be engaged with the system, they're going to have to give them time to
49:30
get prepared for that engagement.
49:33
And just being educated about those basic psychological dynamics
49:38
probably is going to, even under restrictive policies, is probably going to lead to a better outcome than when the receivers of the report are ignorant of the psychology behind it.
49:55
So I have another question that came in, so
49:59
privacy regulations often prohibit telling
50:02
the victims about the outcome of management actions on their cases, that's a
50:07
policy we have.
50:09
How can this be reconciled when the victims' need
50:12
to know the outcome? [Freyd] So again, I don't know enough
50:20
to know for sure if these policies are absolutely necessary. And so one of the things I always question is can the
50:29
policy itself be changed? But
50:31
but for people, if it can't for people who aren't in a
50:35
position to change it would have to do their best with that policy, ... I just forgot what policy are we talking about? Sometimes we have privacy... [Freyd] Oh privacy right. So there can be for instance
50:56
alternative ways of at least communicating aggregate responses. It may not be possible to say what we did in this case, but it may be possible within the legal guidelines to be able to say, we had 10 or 20 or whatever number of cases over this particular time
51:18
period. Here is what, you know, 7 of them we did this, 3 of them we did this,
51:23
so at least people are getting that aggregate information about
51:27
outcome, even if they can't know in an individual case. It may not be as satisfying, but it may be better than not knowing anything at all.
51:36
Yeah, I agree.
51:37
And, I could add to that from the institutional, the internal side, the
51:42
Peer Support Workers - we have a system of those people that are empowered with knowledge,
51:47
to help also empower their peers to access resources internal to the
51:56
institution, but one of the resources
51:59
we obtained, and I think it's helpful somebody thinking about reporting,
52:03
is that outcome letter, the standard letter that is issued to
52:08
all parties at the end of an investigation at
52:12
USGS so that is one thing the Peer Support Workers in USGS do have, that they can show. I think that's really helpful for a person that's thinking about reporting is just: what is this going to look like?
52:28
So I don't have any other questions coming in.
52:33
any other...?
52:35
People have to type so
52:37
I don't have anything else but we could wrap?
52:43
Ok, well, thanks everybody for coming today and thank you Dr. Freyd
52:48
for your lecture. [Freyd] Thank you all for attending.
52:51
I will post this recording and announce it to all the same avenues
52:57
I marketed the talk and I'm also going to work on putting up captions.
53:05
That will happen when I post the recording.
53:10
Ok, thanks again everybody. [Ralph] Alex?
53:17
Did you see that one question?
53:20
Anonymous, please.
53:27
It says anonymous please.
53:29
I'm honoring that. It says: Hello Dr. Freyd. I've been
53:33
retaliate against by my management for trying to point out
53:37
sexual abuse within my organization I heard
53:41
'privileged whiner' as a hidden way of referring to me. I feel my
53:45
promotion potential has been frozen due to this. Who can I contact within the organization to look into this?
53:51
I ask because my experience has been something I feel other whistle-blowers
53:55
have certainly gone through. I did it for
54:00
I was sickened by my co-worker's treatment.
54:07
That one we'd probably want to take off line. We could refer that person - we have a USGS anti-harassment website.
54:18
It has a number of resources. One
54:20
of them is a reporting matrix that they can look over. The contact for
54:26
the anti-harassment program is listed there, JoAnn Dominique and
54:30
the Peer Support Worker program is also outlined there as another resource.
54:36
as well as the USGS ombuds is
54:39
another
54:40
person they can talk to, and it's a given that that conversation will remain confidential.
54:48
So those are a few resources I could offer that person
54:52
Okay, and, we can handle that offline.
54:59
There's another question from
55:01
- Are we allowed to engage in private with other questions.
55:09
Yes.
55:09
We still have the recording going and we still have 5 more minutes, so
55:14
So, yes, is the answer to that.
55:19
This person would like to be unmuted
55:22
So, I will
55:24
unmute this person.
55:27
If we know of a situation at a higher
55:30
institution, what can we do to
55:36
encourage some action there? [Freyd] This is a question for me...
55:47
I don't know what you mean by a higher
55:48
institution? - at a college.
55:53
if there's harassment
55:55
going on at a college. [Freyd] What do you mean by institution?
55:59
- at a graduate level. [Freyd] So there's things you can do within the institution, but there's
56:10
also groups that are working on this problem nationally and, first of all the National Academy of Science,
56:22
Engineering and Medicine have
56:25
a task force - an action collaborative on
56:28
harassment in STEM, and
56:32
they're doing a ton on their advisory committee, and I'm trying
56:36
to help them and if you google National Academy of Science Engineering and Medicine sexual harassment
56:42
action collaborative,
56:42
you will find some of what's going on and you can reach out to individuals there. There's ... I won't remember the names off the top of my head, but
56:55
there are some grass roots groups attempting to tackle this problem
57:01
that can be contacted as well. So, depending on, how safe within the particular
57:07
school to report, versus
57:10
maybe needing to go to a national group, I would definitely reach out
57:14
to one or the other and let them know what the situation is.
57:18
Okay, thank you very much.
57:23
[Ralph] So this was one thing that we missed a little bit and
57:28
was that when folks sent in their questions,
57:31
We should have informed them to send their questions to panelists instead
57:36
of host, so I've received some questions directly.
57:41
So, that's why you were'nt able to see those. So would you like me to go
57:45
through those?
57:47
Sure. So...
57:52
How can we address
57:57
failures in the system as individuals or mid-
58:01
management not the head of the organization when the organization fails?[Freyd] I think that's a lot like the question
58:11
that we had earlier about what can individual
58:15
employees do. So my answer would pretty much be the same: that groups can
58:23
together have more
58:25
power than individuals have.
58:29
So, solidarity basically to work together.
58:35
Okay.
58:37
I have another one here.
58:39
The privacy act
58:42
limits the information we can share with the
58:45
alleged victim after the investigation is concluded. In light of the privacy
58:50
act, do we have suggestions on how to create
58:54
transparency that builds trust that the organization
59:00
is taking the appropriate steps to address harassment. [Freyd] That, too is kind of similar to an earlier question
59:09
where - I would
59:12
first of all question, are we sure that those policies
59:15
themselves can't be changed? Maybe they're overly restrictive, but if not, or in the meantime, pushing for aggregate
59:25
information that reassures
59:27
people that things are, they're consequences.
59:31
And, that things are really happening when a make a report
59:35
leading to changes and outcomes. You might have to protect the privacy of one individual case, but you can usually
59:43
present aggregate information. [Etheridge] I can speak to that a little bit. I know that on our USGS anti-harassment website
59:52
there's a listing, I believe it's quarterly, JoAnn Dominique puts together an aggregate
59:57
showing some numbers about the reports that are incoming and the resolution.
60:05
Okay, thank you the next one says privacy
60:08
regulations often prohibit telling victims the outcome
60:12
of management's action on their cases
60:17
How can this be reconciled if the victims need to know
60:21
the outcome? [Freyd} I think we talked about that one and I think it's
60:28
related to the last question,
60:30
you know, I always question
60:34
the premise of these things. So you we sure that the privacy policy is
60:46
necessary the way it's written. So I always question the premise. Because sometimes
60:53
policies could be designed to be less restrictive
60:58
and still be in line with
61:00
the regulations. That's one thing and the other thing is:
61:07
if you're stuck then at least give the aggregate information.
61:12
[Ralph] Again, you may have answered these, I'm just reading what I got in front of me:
61:17
Thank you for the presentation, very informative. wonder the construct of
61:22
institution also serves to perpetuate
61:26
the [audio broke up] it allows the institution should be accountable rather
61:32
than the individuals who perpetuate the betrayal. [Freyd] It broke up a
61:42
little bit while you were reading, but I think the question is: Are we giving individual
61:47
an out by saying it was the institution when there are in fact actors who need to be held accountable? And that's
61:53
a great question and I think that can happen and it's a risk here.
61:57
I think accountability is really important
62:03
in all these domains, and holding both individuals and institutions accountable is necessary
62:10
to make change. I'm not a big one
62:13
for punishment, myself I'm a big one for accountability. So acknowledgement
62:18
and people making right when they've caused harm,
62:23
will move us forward. Thank you. Another one: What are the
62:29
differences in building institutional courage in university versus federal
62:34
agencies. It seems so hopeless in the federal government because
62:39
the system is so big and there are so many layers of
62:43
bureaucracy. [Freyd] Yeah, you would be amazed at how much bureaucracy
62:52
is in universities, too but I'm sure
62:55
it's true there's even
62:57
more layers of bureaucracy in Federal agencies. And it's not hopeless, nothing's hopeless here, but
63:05
it can add additional levels of challenge.
63:10
No I just think starting with education and getting people's consciousness
63:14
raised is going to
63:15
start to push things in the right direction but it may take longer, the more
63:20
bureaucracy one has to confront.
63:24
[Ralph] That was all that I received.
63:28
[Etheridge] I have one more if we can go to 12:05.
63:33
How do you address cultural differences related to
63:36
confrontation in both individual reporting
63:40
and, the individual who witnesses or was reported
63:45
against? [Freyd] That's another really great question. I don't have an answer to that other than to say it's something that needs to be addressed. I like concept 'cultural humility' better than 'cultural competence'. Starting with the idea that we often don't know
64:06
what all of those cultural forces and factors are operating on people who have really
64:11
different backgrounds or where any one of us fits. So therefore trying
64:18
to find out what those constraints are,  understanding that, for instance, it may be really hard for somebody to speak about something depending on their background. And also there's quite a bit
64:33
of thought going into the particular problem of - for a group that's historically and currently oppressed in society, if there's been some transgression within that group,
64:45
the risk of talking about it may be very high because it
64:49
may expose the group to get more oppression and so
64:54
that creates an additional need to sort of be silent about things that have happened.
65:01
So it think these are very real issues that need to be talked about
65:07
and addressed, and I'm sorry I don't have the answer other than to say that this is really important.
65:13
Thank you.
65:14
[Etheridge] Thank you I think we'll stop here because we've gone over for 5 minutes and
65:19
again, thank you Dr. Freyd. I appreciate your talk. That was really informative.
65:24
Thank you. [Freyd] Yes thank you so much [Ralph] Yes thank you Dr Freyd.
65:29
Thanks everybody.