Sexual assault is happening on college campuses across this country. Studies done over the past two decades have all revealed that approximately 20% of female students will be sexually assaulted during their time at college. What can we do to help reduce this number?
One of the most important things we can do to reduce the incidence of sexual assault is to intervene on behalf of potential victims. Bystander intervention can take many forms and the most important element is to become highly aware of what’s happening around you. For example, if you’re at a party and overhear someone making comments about having sex with a very drunk person, take it seriously and try to get that person home safely. College students need to have each other’s backs and watch out for each other. Any comments you overhear about forcing someone to have sex or someone hoping to have sex with an incapacitated person should be taken seriously. Sexual assault is deadly serious and should never be joked about. As a bystander, always listen to your gut – if something seems off or worrisome, it probably is. Be the person who stands up for a fellow student and says “I got this.” Then help get that person somewhere safe.
Raising awareness about this problem is another way to work towards change. The more we open up on campuses and talk about sexual assault, the more likely victims are to feel safe to come forward. When we talk about it openly, we educate those who may be at risk in the future. Raising awareness can take so many forms – it could mean putting up flyers about the importance of bystander intervention or steps to helping someone intervene. Raising awareness could mean starting a support group for the victims of sexual assault. Another way to raise your voice could be to arrange for a screening of The Hunting Ground at your school. Think of creative ways to be part of the change movement. The more we raise our voices together, the more we can impact the number of assaults happening on campuses and elsewhere.