Vicky Rateau - RAINN National Leadership Council


Each month, RAINN highlights a member of its National Leadership Council. The NLC is a group of dedicated individuals who have shown their commitment to RAINN’s mission of supporting survivors and ending sexual violence.

Vicky Rateau is the programme officer for Oak Foundation focused on preventing child sexual abuse. She is a social justice campaigner and is developing a strategy for holding tech companies accountable for online child sexual abuse and changing paradigms around child athletes in the U.S.

What inspired you to become part of RAINN’s National Leadership Council?

In a way, it’s formalizing the flow of information on what we can do to combat child sexual abuse (CSA). RAINN is a critical partner of ours in combatting the online proliferation of child sexual abuse. Their policy leadership is one of my go-to resources to learn and understand about opportunities and what is happening in Congress and beyond. Joining the National Leadership Council is a chance to stay abreast of RAINN's and survivor-leaders’ broader effort to combat CSA.

What do we need to do more of as a country to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation?

It is unacceptable that, as a society, we allow criminal treatment of children — sexual abuse of children — to be shared on the internet. It’s no longer socially or legally acceptable to turn a blind eye if it was in a playground. We’d hold teachers, schools, and parks and recreation accountable, in addition to the offender. It should be the same online for child sexual abuse material (CSAM). That responsibility of keeping kids safe should not be burdened only onto parents and children.

What are the gaps in advocacy work that need to be done to prevent child sexual abuse?

More should be done to hold technology companies accountable for preventing, blocking, and detecting/removing online images of child sexual abuse. Greater transparency is also needed, as well as safety-by-design principles to safeguard children and take away the ladder for perpetrators to engage, capture abuse, and distribute CSAM. That sort of accountability requires action by legislators, regulators, and companies, for which advocacy is key.

How can we educate our children more on safety and security in our communities, especially in light of the pandemic?

Self-generated content, often in response to the request of others, is becoming a bigger problem. There are a few great education campaigns that are for children and parents, targeted at their perspectives, on what they can do.

I’m a reader and, with more reading time, my latest obsession is how young adult fiction could enculture the concept of consent earlier.

How are campaigns preventing child sexual abuse and how could they do better?

The campaigns I’m most familiar with are trying to change the norms within industry or societies through legislated accountability and regulation. Federally, I think we have a unique window and opportunity to get it right as there is a lot of attention on the problem of online CSAM and the failures by tech companies that contribute to the problem being as big as it is. It would behoove us for the brilliant leaders of these campaigns to coordinate and share information and relationships so we can get some of the envisaged changes over the finish line.

How can we all be better supporters and advocates for survivors in our lives?

I’ve learned a lot from listening to how survivors define abuse. It may not require or begin with improper physical contact to constitute an abuse of power or sexual abuse. It’s been a mind shift to think about the implications of this and what that means for the proposals we put forward and how important it be that they are survivor-informed or survivor-centric.

This and give funding to advocates for survivors. It’s sad to often hear that Oak is one of few foundations that funds prevention of CSA. We’re a small family foundation. Unfortunately, I know how hard it is for survivor-advocates to fundraise. What we can do is get more funding for the brilliant, deep thinkers and doers who are advocates for survivors, their ideas could help us end CSA within a generation. There were many injustices in U.S. history that people thought couldn’t be ended and yet were. Let’s make child abuse one of those.

What is your message to survivors?

Policies to prevent and stop child sexual abuse need to be survivor-informed. I hope in the journey that survivors take after trauma, speaking up, and engaging in advocacy is a stop along or part of the journey. There are groups that are open to that input anonymously and opportunities to take on more publicly. RAINN offers the spectrum of opportunities to be engaged. Please seek them out.

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