Taking the initiative and stepping up during compromising situations can drastically reduce the number of sexual assaults.
10 minutes of silence resounded across the Old U as a sea of students and faculty in black stood in support of sexual assault survivors.
Violence Prevention Program Coordinator Kelsey Hancock and other campus groups came together to organize these moments of silence and invite people from all across campus on Monday, October 8 to show support for survivors. President Gerard Clancy and many other department heads from across campus also stood with us.
That day, it didn’t matter where someone fell on the political spectrum. All that mattered was that together, we proudly stood in support of every person affected by sexual assault. To all of those survivors: we believe you.
No matter who you are, you can help to prevent sexual assault on our campus and beyond. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than 20 percent of college women are survivors of a sexual assault that happened in their four years of college. Statista reports that sexual assaults accounted for more than 10 percent of all violent crimes in the United States, and those are only the assaults that were reported. Do these numbers horrify you? Good. They are unacceptably high for such a horrendous act. So what can you do?
There are many ways that you can help to help prevent sexual assault and support survivors. If you are someone who wants to help, then I urge you to look into them. I only ask you stop normalizing these experiences. Stop believing that one in five women being assaulted in college is a given outcome and start working towards knocking that number way down.
Our university and many other organizations have done what they can to give us the tools to step in and do something during potential assault situations, but it is up to us to actually follow through. Maybe these situations have nothing to do with you, but it costs you nothing to go over and at least scope it out.
It is not your fault that there are people out there who commit sexual assault, but that does not mean that you should not be looking out for people. We live our lives constantly helped by those around us, so be a part of that and look out for the people around you. This does not have to be some climactic confrontation, it can be as simple as saying, “Hey, guys, everything all right over here?” and reading the situation from there. And if there seems to be some kind of threat, then you can step away and contact the authorities. In these cases, if something seems suspicious, then it should be investigated.
Sure, maybe you will come across dozens of situations where you misunderstood and everything is fine, but that one time that you end up helping prevent an assault is infinitely worth it. I know how much difference it can make to step in because I have seen what happens when nobody does.
I had someone who I would do anything for break down to me at 3 a.m. because of an assault that had happened half a year before. I cannot begin to describe the pain and anger that I felt upon hearing that and not being able to do anything to help, and yet it was nothing compared to what they had experienced. Sexual assault is a deeply disturbing experience that nobody deserves. It does not matter whether you have anything to do with a situation; if you see something that even hints at being a potential assault, then do something.
Granted, sometimes stepping in can be a lot more difficult than it sounds. The perpetrator could be someone you have a close relationship with and would never suspect of committing assault. Please do not let that blind you to the damage that they could do. Have the courage to stand up for survivors. If you can stop someone before they commit an assault and get through to them about what they were about to do, then you have changed at least two lives for the better. Inaction is itself an action, so if you simply sit by and do nothing then you are allowing these acts to happen. I urge you to stop going with the flow and start speaking out against these terrible acts.
On October 8, we stood in support of survivors and we are still standing now. Stand with us.