Our goal is to end sexual assault against young athletes by ensuring perpetrators and enablers are held accountable, creating transparency in reporting, building an environment in which athletes do not fear retaliation when reporting abuse, and advocating for change to protect survivors.
We are excited to welcome to our team as Campus Ambassadors students from across the nation who have a passion for creating positive change. TAOS Campus Ambassadors help us further our mission on their campus by distributing resources, establishing relationships with student activists and campus organizations that align with our mission, and amplifying the voices of those on campus through The Army of Survivors’ channels. Currently we have ambassadors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and Butler University. If you are interested in joining our team please click here.
Child Athlete Bill of Rights
At The Army of Survivors, we believe every child athlete has the right to be SAFE. That means:
- SAY “NO”: You have the right to say “no” in unwanted situations.
- ACT: You have the right to disclose and act when something doesn’t feel right.
- FEEL: You have the right to express your feelings and emotions and receive support.
- EDUCATE: You have the right to understand what abuse is and how to report it.
In July, the Child Athlete Bill of Rights was featured alongside Executive Director Julie Ann Rivers-Cochran in a World Players United video encouraging athlete safety.
Child Protection Work with Apple
We were invited to be a part of the child protection advocate advisory group to Apple. Our goal is to advise Apple on how best to approach their Child Sexaul Assault Material program and roll-out. You can read more about their rollout here.
U.S. National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents
Through work with the Keep Kids Safe Coalition, The Army of Survivors worked to create the U.S.National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents which outlines steps the United States federal government can take to prevent sexual violence against children and adolescents, and ensure that those who experience sexual violence have access to the healing and justice they deserve. The Army of Survivors was key in centering survivor voices in the development of the blueprint, coordinating and facilitating the first Keep Kids Safe Survivor Roundtable where a diverse group of survivors from throughout the U.S. provided feedback on the proposed blueprint.
Global Movement to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents
Working with a global network of advocates, organizations and non-profits in order to start a global movement to end sexual violence against children and adolescents.
Working with the International Olympic Committee to develop a course for Welfare Officers globally on sexual violence in sport. Specifically, we have been charged with making sure that the athlete and survivor voice is heard throughout, presenting on multiple topics regarding trauma in athletics, and marking student assignments with the survivor perspective in mind.
Child Athlete Bill of Rights / Coalition for Empowered Athletes
Working in partnership with Child USA to launch and disseminate a Child Athlete Bill of Rights. The partnership launched digital ads in order to spread awareness about the pervasiveness of abuse in sport, and inspired the action of hundreds of parents, survivors, and allies to urge their communities to adopt the Child Athlete Bill of Rights and safeguarding policies. We are still currently working to encourage sports organizations to incorporate the Bill of Rights into their daily work and policies.
Michigan Bills SB 4306 and SB 4307
We are working with survivors and advocates from across the state and nation to advocate for amendments to bills passed in 2018. The amendments would provide additional opportunities for justice for survivors by expanding the statute of limitations and amending institutional immunity. The bills would be retroactive to the 1960’s.
Sports and Rights Alliance
The Sport & Rights Alliance is an unprecedented global coalition of leading NGOs and trade unions working together to embed human rights and anti-corruption across world sport. The Army of Survivors joined the Sport & Rights Alliance to elevate the voices of survivors of abuse globally.
We have held four virtual Survivor Speakouts in 2021 providing a safe and supportive virtual space for survivors to share their stories and find support. We will continue to hold these kinds of trauma-informed events in order to give survivors a platform to take the power back by telling their story.
Keep Kids Safe Steering Group
TAOS is part of the steering group for a national movement, Keep Kids Safe. We along with other nationally recognized organizations work to end sexual violence against children and adolescents. Our focus is on comprehensive, bold and transformative action from leaders focused on:
- Prevention to protect this and every generation to come.
- Healing for victims, survivors, and their families.
- Justice for victims/survivors and accountability for perpetrators and institutions who covered up the abuse
TAOS is working with leading experts across the country to develop an 8-week certification for coaches working with youth athletes on trauma-informed coaching in sport. The course will teach coaches what trauma is, how it affects athletes and children, how to recognize it, and how to adjust their coaching approach accordingly. The course is currently in development and will be piloted in early 2022.
Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee on FBI’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar Case
We wrote and hand-delivered a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for a criminal investigation of the FBI officers who handled the case. Shortly following the hearing and delivery of the letter, the Judiciary Committee did just that.
TAOS worked with the World Players Association in their research and development of these two important resources in a consulting capacity in order to make sure that their approach was trauma informed and survivor centered.
January 2019-October 2020
We worked with Champion Women to pass national legislation that establishes safeguards to protect amateur athletes from abuse, including sexual abuse, by coaches and employees in U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports. Senate Bill 2330 was signed in to law on October 30, 2020.
The bill establishes (1) legislative mechanisms by which Congress can dissolve the Board of Directors of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and decertify national governing bodies; and (2) a duty of care that USOPC owes to amateur athletes, including protecting athletes by requiring it to ensure that any allegation of child abuse of an amateur athlete who is a minor is immediately reported to law enforcement.
The bill revises duties of the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the pursuit of abuse claims by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, confidentiality, and retaliation against an employee or member for disclosing information or seeking assistance in mediation. The USOPC and the national governing bodies shall not interfere in or attempt to influence the outcome of an investigation.
SURVIVOR’S AGENDA VIRUTAL TOWN HALL FOR ADULT SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL VIOLENCE
In collaboration with the Me Too Movement, Darkness to Light, Together for Girls, and the SNAP Network, to hold a panel and Q&A with leading advocates across the nation so that we could hear from Adult Survivors of Childhood abuse. The objective was, as part of the Survivors Agenda Collective, to deeply listen to survivors, form a constituency of survivors, and call for a change in rules. With over 800 RSVPs, we had 300 survivors attend.
ATHLETE A PANEL AND SCREENING
We partnered with the Athlete A film team to hold the first screening of their nationwide film tour. The panel was led by nationally recognized athletes, survivors, advocates and creators and discussed institutional abuse, how to hold organizations accountable, and what we as individuals can do to help. The event was attended by over 100 participants.
SHADES OF RACISM IN RAPE
We partnered with I’m a Survivor Inc., She Will Speak Series, Voices Beyond Assault, and Voices of Hope to hold a discussion on why we have disproportionate views about violence, and why women of color experience higher rates of violence against them. Held by nationally recognized advocates of color, the panel educated participants on how the social narrative impacts women of color.
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
In January of 2020, The Army of Survivors held a Mental Health First Aid training to certify two dozen participants. Mental Health First Adi is an evidence-based curriculum for community members to learn how to identify risk factors and warning signs to mental health issues, information on a variety of mental illnesses and a 5 step action plan to help a person with a mental health problem or crisis.
global survivors bill of rights
We spoke with Rise at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly pressing world leaders to pass a Global Survivor Bill of Rights. “UN General Assembly (UNGA) has never passed a resolution focused solely on sexual violence survivors’ rights. Around the world protesters are marching to demand recognition and justice for survivors who are denied basic rights and access to justice. For the first time in history, an UNGA Sexual Violence Survivors’ Rights Resolution would enshrine that survivors’ rights are fundamental human rights.”
October 2019-December 2019
We partnered with Voices of Hope during the holiday season to send non-denominational holiday cards with words of encouragement to domestic violence shelters across the nation. The cards are written by TAOS’s own board members and staff, as well as by students on campuses led by our Campus Ambassadors.
The Army of Survivors is proud to have worked with HBO and Global Sports Development to create and distribute resources in conjunction with the At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal documentary premiere. We worked with several national nonprofit organizations to create a list of resources for survivors, parents, athletes, and communities. We also partnered to write a viewing support guide with important self-care practices for those who may have experienced assault or abuse and therefore have a hard time viewing the documentary.
January 2019–May 2019
In January 2019, a passionate team from the Graduate Employees Union at Michigan State University reached out to The Army to partner on adding survivor-centric language to the graduate employees’ contract for meaningful change at the University.
Together we reviewed the existing contract, which had no mention of relationship violence and sexual misconduct/RVSM, discussed changes, and developed recommendations. After grueling negotiations with the university, the union was able to make some key changes:
- The university committed to properly train teaching assistants on anti-discrimination and harassment (ADAH) and relationship violence and sexual misconduct (RVSM). The university committed to in-person RVSM training for teaching assistants that includes information on “sensitively responding to survivors” in addition to annual online training requirements. We interpret “sensitively responding” as responding supportively. To our knowledge, this is the first graduate union contract to include language about supporting survivors.
- The university agreed to provide teaching assistants with a standardized list of university and community resources to share with survivors.
- The university agreed to equitable representation for the GEU to provide input when the RVSM and ADAH policies are revised. The team hopes to use this concession to continue pushing MSU to make these policies more survivor-centric.
- The university agreed to make the process of filing a Title IX complaint more transparent by providing regular updates on the progress of Title IX investigations.
While there is still work to be done at MSU and across the nation, the tentative contract is a step in the right direction.
January 2019–April 2019
In January 2019, some talented and driven medical students from Michigan State Medical Society Medical Student Section (MSMS) reached out to The Army for advice on the policy for having chaperones present in exam rooms. The existing policy was written to focus on protecting physicians against “false allegations” rather than protecting patients from sexual abuse.
Working with the medical students, we discussed the challenges, intricacies, and necessities of this policy, as well as what constitutes a good victim-centered policy.
Then they put in the work.
The MSMS accepted the resulting proposal and it is now policy. Allies are working to turn this policy into state law in Michigan.
The Army of Survivors is proud to have been a part of this project and of the authors’ dedication and passion to making medical practices safer in Michigan.
January 2019–April 2019
The Michigan State University Museum and The Army of Survivors launched a roundtable discussion series to raise awareness and provide education on the effects of sexual violence. The series kicked off on Jan. 15, 2019. Four sessions were held at the MSU Museum and one session at the MSU Detroit Center.
The series touched on topics including trauma, consent, and healing. Panelists included Kate W ells from Michigan Radio’s podcast “Believed,” Rebecca Campbell, an MSU professor of psychology known for her research pertaining to sexual assault and violence against women and children, and survivors and advocates including Amanda Thomashow, who filed the MSU Title IX investigation against perpetrator Larry Nassar in 2014, and Louise Harder, Dr. Danielle Moore, and Melissa Hudecz, from The Army.
To view videos from panel discussion CLICK HERE.
Co-curated with Michigan State University Museum officials, parents and allies of Nassar victims, the exhibit aimed to involve the community in contemporary social justice issues. The exhibit honored and celebrated the survivors, while educating the public on myths and misconceptions of sexual violence as well as the impact of trauma.
International Safeguards for Children in Sport Coalition
As a part of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport Coalition, we work to encourage organizations to protect children whenever and wherever they play sport by providing guidance and support in developing safeguarding policy. The Army of Survivors is also a part of the Advisory Group for the coalition, where we work to guide the strategic visioning and long-term planning of the group.
Safe Sport International Advisory Group
The Army of Survivors was also invited to be a part of the Safe Sport International advisory group. With Safe Sport International, we will work to advise on strategic visioning and long-term goals. The Army of Survivors is also a part of the Safe Sport International Athlete Committee, working to amplify the voices of athletes in the work that they do.
International Olympic Committee
The Army of Survivors is working with the International Olympic Committee in an advisory position on their Athlete Welfare Officer academic courses. Within the advisory board, our role is to center athlete and survivor voices.