Working to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to
build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.
What We Do
Founded in 2009 as Holla Back DC!, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) has evolved from a blog to a dynamic organization that mobilizes the community to end public sexual harassment and assault in the DC metropolitan area. It does this through both online and offline activism, including workshops, innovative direct services, policy advocacy, and community outreach. Currently volunteer-led and -run, CASS utilizes the creativity and energy of the DC community to further its mission and vision.
In 2009 two concerned DC metro residents created Holla Back DC!, an online forum for individuals to submit their public sexual harassment and assault experiences as a way to raise awareness about the prevalence of the problem in DC. In April 2009, due to the popularity and community support, the founders decided to expand the efforts to offline activism, including workshops, policy & advocacy, and community outreach. With that, the name changed to Collective Action for Safe Spaces, as the community needed more collective community action to create safe spaces for all in the DC metro area.
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) is a grassroots organization that works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) strives for a community in which people of all backgrounds, gender expressions or identities, and experiences can feel safe occupying public spaces. In this community, individuals will hold themselves accountable to each other and to the community at-large for preventing public gender-based violence and fostering a safe and harassment-free environment free of the negative influences of power and control. Until we are able to achieve this, CASS wants every community member to feel safe and comfortable addressing public sexual harassment and assault, whether they witness or experience it.
We seek to honor and support survivors of public sexual harassment and assault while also challenging current institutional frameworks that diminish their voices or experiences. We believe in the power of community-driven, action-oriented solutions to spark the individual, community, and societal culture changes that will create a world free of public sexual harassment and assault.
We do this by:
Celebrating Contributions: Those who share their time, space, and financial resources—including volunteers, survivors, businesses, community members, artists, decision makers, donors, and government officials—allow the organization to move closer to fulfilling the mission of ending public sexual harassment and assault in the DC Metropolitan area.
Innovating: CASS harnesses the power of technology and innovative tools that can be used by survivors and bystanders alike, regardless of background or life experience, to help raise awareness and prevent public sexual harassment and assault.
Harnessing Creativity: As CASS assists in building a movement against public sexual harassment and assault in the DC metropolitan area, tools like art challenge staid attitudes or ignorance surrounding it, while creating another outlet for survivors. CASS also seeks to empower the DC metropolitan area to create a new and better definition of community, in which greater safety and opportunity for survivors is a priority, and creative solutions to ending public sexual harassment and assault, outside of the criminal justice system, can succeed.
Embracing Diversity: CASS embraces all forms of diversity and their intersections in our communities by working collectively within them to ensure that all individuals live lives free of public sexual harassment and assault in the DC Metropolitan area.
Creating Accountability Measurements: CASS holds itself accountable to DC Metropolitan area residents as a primary steward of the movement to end public sexual harassment and assault in the DC metropolitan area. CASS also works to help hold our communities accountable for creating safe public spaces for everyone, while holding harassers accountable for their actions and the negative impact public sexual harassment and assault has not only on individuals, but also the community.
Finding Non-Criminal Solutions: CASS acknowledges that the criminal legal system perpetuates and inflicts structural and interpersonal violence against women and LGBTQGNC individuals, especially those who are people of color. For this reason, CASS does not support further criminalization of public sexual harassment and assault as a strategy to end public sexual violence, and encourages the community to look outside the criminal legal system to address the entrenched structural aspects of this violence. CASS also values the right of every survivor to choose the path that they feel will lead them to healing. In cases in which survivors choose to engage with the criminal legal system, CASS is committed to ensuring that its responses are survivor-centered and trauma-informed.