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This April, campuses nationwide will take part in National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The U.S. Department of Justice approximates that 24 percent of college-aged women, and 3 percent of college-aged men, have been sexually assaulted; the majority of victims knew the perpetrator.
In an effort to reduce this risk of violence for both women and men, universities and other organizations are spearheading awareness and prevention campaigns. Some campuses—such as Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington—will offer acclaimed program Take Back the Night. This international initiative seeks to end sexual violence and encourage dialogue through survivor speak-outs, speeches, open forums, and marches designed to empower and educate.
The White Ribbon Project is also an international movement. It focuses on involving men and boys in work to end sexual violence, promote gender equality and healthy relationships, and develop a new vision of masculinity—through workshops, presentations, and conferences. Many schools, such as the University of New Hampshire in Durham, encourage students and staff to wear ribbons as a pledge to help end violence.
More examples of campus programs
- At the University of Maryland in College Park, fraternities and sororities implement the 10 Man Plan and 10 Woman Plan, designed to involve students in discussions about the myths around sexual assault, victim blaming, and how to prevent sexual violence. On the University of Maryland’s Her Campus Web site, a student explains, “The 10 Woman Plan is a spinoff of the 10 Man Plan, which is comprised of a group of men within [a fraternity] chapter who work to educate themselves and their peers about sexual assault on campus.”
- Portland State University, in Oregon, has planned a variety of events, such as a faculty lecture and a workshop titled “Love Your Body After Trauma,” aimed at supporting survivors of violence.
Why not get involved and make your own voice heard? There are probably events being planned on your campus already, so check with your health or women’s center, student life office, or Greek organizations. You can also plan an event, encourage friends to speak up, or post information about risk-reduction and services for survivors of violence on social media.
More ideas about getting involved
- Support healthy behaviors on your campus: communication, respect, and consent.
- Look for signs before an assault occurs that someone is disrespectful of other people’s boundaries, coercive, pressuring, or aggressive.
- Speak up about acceptable and unacceptable behavior, take action to prevent violence, and report it when it does occur.
- Notice what’s going on around you. If something doesn’t feel right, say something and intervene.
- Use the “three D’s” as a guideline: direct, delegate, and distract.
- Address the fear of getting hurt yourself by assessing whether you feel it’s safe to intervene. It is important to protect yourself and avoid stepping into a situation where you could be harmed.
- If necessary, call for help, or designate someone else to do so while you stay and monitor the situation. Campus security personnel, local police, and sometimes even an older student or Residential Assistant, by their presence, can cease the problematic behavior or allow the potential victim to get away.
- If the situation appears to be life-threatening, call 911 immediately.
- Don’t worry about doing exactly the right thing; just do something.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, there are many ways to get help.
Suggestions for seeking support
You may want to seek counseling. Most schools have professional counselors available. Many campuses also have crisis hotlines, sometimes run by trained peer advocates and peer counselors. You can tell them about your experience; they are there to help you through what has happened and be by your side if you want to seek medical attention or report the crime to campus security or the local police.
Consider getting medical care, too. You can visit an emergency room or a health care provider at your university’s health center. Clinicians can treat any injuries, test for and treat any sexually transmitted infections, and can either complete an evidence collection kit or refer you to another provider who can.
It can be hard to talk about experiences with violence. Remember that staff at your school can listen and help; you just need to ask.
For additional support,
contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline:
Get help or find out more
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Vassar College, Sexual Assault Violence Prevention, Bystander Intervention University of Vermont, Bystander Intervention Playbook
White Ribbon Project
Take Back the Night
Men Can Stop Rape
Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER)