Welcome to Part 2 of our December 2022 Inspirational Interview with Tracy DeTomasi, CEO of Callisto in the US.
Ms. DeTomasi is an educator, speaker, and nationally recognised expert on domestic and sexual violence. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with nearly 20 years of experience working with youth, adults, and families across the country who have experienced trauma, she now works to empower survivors of sexual violence to navigate inequitable systems. She has been featured on local and national news networks, including CNN, NPR, Buzzfeed, and Univision.
In this part of the interview, Ms. DeTomasi talks about Callisto’s resources for survivors and allies, its plans to expand its reach, and how men and boys can help end violence against women.
Part 1 of this interview was published on 11 December, 2022.
Photos courtesy of Callisto.
6.Since 2011, what sort of impact has Callisto had on the USA’s approach and attitudes towards VAW?
In 2016, 2 years prior to #MeToo going viral, Callisto’s founder gave a TEDTalk that now has 1.5 million views. This shifted people’s understanding of how to stop sexual assault before it starts by focussing on serial perpetrators.
Since then, we continue to shift attitudes by educating allies across the country. Our Allies Guide has been distributed widely as a way to help friends better respond when learning about an assault of a loved one. We empower survivors through outreach on campuses, which led to students demonstrating and including Callisto in demand letters to administrators. We work to educate people in understanding the challenges survivors face when reporting and how often reporting can be more traumatising than the assault itself.
Our experience tells us that it is possible to use technology to shift power to survivors. Callisto’s trauma-informed, survivor-centred approach focusses on respecting the integrity, choices, and autonomy of each survivor, and protecting the survivor’s privacy until they are ready to come forward with their story.
A rapidly changing landscape has demonstrated increasing intolerance and accountability for repeat perpetrators of sexual misconduct. The #MeToo Movement showed the power and accountability that comes from multiple survivors coming forward together and Callisto safely facilitates helping survivors take coordinated action.
7. How do you think men and boys can help to end violence against women?
By identifying that 99% of offenders are men and boys and most offenders are repeat offenders, it becomes clear that men and boys have a critical role to play in ending violence against women. We know that hurt people, hurt people and men need to address their trauma from sexual abuse, being influenced by toxic masculinity, and deeply engrained patriarchical normative patterns.
Men have the power to hold other men accountable. On college campuses, 90% of sexual assaults are committed by repeat offenders. If men intervene when they hear inappropriate jokes, sexist comments about women, or bragging about “sexual conquests”, they can prevent assaults before they happen.
8. Tell us about Callisto’s plans for the future. What campaigns, programmes, or projects do you have coming up in the next 5 years?
In order to have a truly transformative impact, Callisto has implemented a three-year strategic plan to provide access to the over 20 million college students across the US while also raising awareness of both the issue and our unique solution. Callisto is also exploring opportunities to implement our tools in both the public and private sector in the US and internationally.
9. How can The Pixel Project’s supporters engage with and support the efforts of Callisto to stop violence against women?
First and foremost, you can spread the word about Callisto to college students. Our goal is to have at least one person in every friend group know about Callisto. If you are a survivor or ally looking for help, our collection of resources and Allies Guide are available to anyone who visits our website. If you are interested in launching Callisto on your campus or wanting someone to speak at an event, please contact us.
Additionally, Callisto welcomes monetary donations and volunteers of all kinds. We are currently recruiting attorneys who are interested in becoming Legal Options Counselors. As always, you can follow us on social media and like/share our content, as that will help spread awareness.
10. In your considered opinion, how can we end violence against women for good?
To end violence against women for good, we need to address three key points. First, we need to hold offenders accountable, particularly repeat offenders as this will prevent up to 59% of sexual assaults on college campuses alone. Second, we need to address the larger inequities in our society that perpetuate and often support sexual violence. Finally, we know that hurt people hurt people and therefore need to begin to heal trauma and provide more resources, particularly to children, in order to prevent anyone from taking a path toward violence.