Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Alderwoman Megan Green (left) and Sarah Durrett (right) talk about local efforts to prevent sexual harassment and assult.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

With the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping the nation, we went Behind the Headlines to discuss the sexual harassment and assault on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Host Don Marsh led a discussion about local efforts to change the culture surrounding sexual harassment and document cases of sexual misconduct in St. Louis. Joining him for the discussion were St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green and Sarah Durrett, founder of Combat Sexual Harassment.

Sarah Durrett - Combat Sexual Harassment
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sarah Durrett’s car broke down in 2013, she started walking and taking public transportation for daily tasks in St. Louis — and was surprised to find herself experiencing regular sexual harassment for the first time in her life.

Some men followed her home, and others whispered lewd comments. One man tried to grab her feet and kiss them. Durrett worried that even an off-kilter look could escalate to something scarier. “You don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “You just become afraid.”

So Durrett began considering ways to challenge sexual harassment in St. Louis. After living elsewhere for a few years, she moved back to St. Louis in 2017 and decided to forgo her car, only to once again experience harassment. That’s when she focused on her ideas to start Combat Sexual Harassment, a network to help women and men who have had similar experiences.

(Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has unveiled the legislative changes he says will strengthen the state's domestic violence laws.

The 12 recommendations are the result of a task force Koster convened last year, and seven of them will require action by the General Assembly.

Most of the legislative proposals focus on strengthening orders of protection, which Koster calls the main tools to help domestic violence victims. He says current law doesn't allow juveniles to request those orders.