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Westport Couple's Nonprofit Helps Confront Campus Sexual Assault

Westport's John Fifield started CultureofRespect.org along with his wife, Sandi, to raise awareness and offer support for victims of campus sexual assault.
Westport's John Fifield started CultureofRespect.org along with his wife, Sandi, to raise awareness and offer support for victims of campus sexual assault. Photo Credit: Facebook/Culture of Respect

WESTPORT, Conn. -- A Westport couple founded a national campus sexual assault nonprofit, Culture of Respect, and launched a website last month to introduce the organization.

The website, CultureofRespect.org , was founded by John and Sandi Fifield. The website was built by MarkNet Group of Brewster, N.Y.

The new site is a comprehensive online portal delivering the most current and synthesized thinking and leading practices  from research-based academic sources, professional associations, advocacy groups and governmental reports on the topic of campus sexual assault prevention and response.

The Fifields recognized a critical need in the fight to eliminate sexual assault and establish a culture of respect in America’s institutions of higher learning.

“We founded Culture of Respect to establish a comprehensive, authoritative and accessible online portal that the higher education community could access for tools and resources as they answer the call to stem the tide of sexual assault on their campuses. We believe all constituents must join together in the effort to shift culture,” said Sandi Fifield, an artist whose work has been displayed at The Museum of Modern Art and other well-known museums.

Culture of Respect was created collaboratively with the expertise of an advisory board, as well as research associates from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and New York University. The team helped create the online resources devoted to survivors, parents, friends of survivors, student activists, college administrators and other key decision-makers at colleges and universities.

“Confronting sexual violence on our campuses is emphatically not a hopeless task. Creative minds have been hard at work for years to come up with solutions to the many vexing and  challenging issues that must be tackled,” says David Lisak, clinical psychologist, interpersonal violence expert and Culture of Respect advisor. “It’s time for higher education to start working collaboratively, to truly join forces, and the Culture of Respect web portal is a crucial tool that is designed to help institutions in that effort.”

The library of resources available on the website include the following:

  • Reviews of evidence-based prevention education programs
  • Synthesized, pertinent legal information for survivors
  • A legal guide for university compliance
  • Crucial talking points and support for survivors, friends and parents
  • Comprehensive academic research on the topic
  • Lists of organizations, speakers and experts on related topics

The portal also houses Culture of Respect’s signature framework, the CORE (Culture of Respect Engagement) Blueprint, a six-pillar strategy to eliminate campus sexual assault. All stakeholders can use this as a guide to work together to prevent rape and increase response efforts.

“We believe that the campus rape epidemic will only be eliminated when sexual assault is replaced with a culture of respect in every sphere of campus life. Informed by a great amount of research, we created the CORE Blueprint as a guide for university administrators and leaders to strengthen the culture of respect on their campuses and proactively address  campus rape,” said John Fifield, a Westport architect .

The MarkNet team of founder Gina Nieves, LisaMarie DeSanto and Taqi Hasnain created the organization’s website.  It was designed by Jessica Helfand, Pamela Hovland and  Karen Salsgive.

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