Speaking Out and the Difficulties That Come With It by Blogger Dana

Speaking Out and the Difficulties That Come With It by Blogger Dana

This is a society where it is incredibly hard for people to speak up. To feel as though they are able to open up to another person and really let them know what is going on. This lack of communication is even more prevalent to survivors of sexual assault.

It is so incredibly difficult for survivors to open up because unfortunately we live in a society where the actual innocent is not so innocent until proven otherwise. There are so many places for survivors to turn, but all of them seem to have a list of pros and cons. We as a society need to eliminate that cons list. We need to make sure that anyone trying to report, seek medical attention, or even just talk feel nothing but the positive outcome from his or her choices.

Unfortunately, when it comes to college campuses, there are more sexual assaults that take place than really anywhere else. This of course means there are more ways for Universities to mishandle the situation at hand.

It is sad to say, but my college campus did a horrendous job of handling one particular report of sexual assault. A woman at my University reported her sexual assault. After much time, she felt as though not much had been done to really help her or to further the safety of other people on campus.

So this very brave woman went to the most heavily populated area for chalking on the campus. (Chalking is using chalk on the sidewalk to promote an event, raise awareness, or even just to tell someone to have a good day).

On those steps she wrote, “MY RAPIST STILL GOES HERE… WILL SOMEONE PLEASE LISTEN TO ME?”

The Vice President of Student Affairs responded with, “ Whatever was up there need to be cleaned… They were asked to freshen up anywhere there was a chalking done, it was starting to look a bit trashy.”

I can tell you right now that hearing something like that come from the mouth of the very person who should be protecting me and my peers would keep most from speaking up at our University again.

They silenced a survivor.

Thankfully, the staff and other administration at my University knew that this would not be the last time we talked about this. There were rallies, petitions, and supporters coming from every angle. We would not be silenced.

My mentor and friend, was quoted at the time saying, “”We know that victimization doesn’t end when the sexual assault or abuse ends”
We as a community had to step up and really look out for one another. We had to help each other. We are so unbelievably blessed to have the staff, community, and students that we do.

But unfortunately this does not just begin and end with my school. This kind of stuff can happen at any college University and it is up to us to stand together and to make sure we are offering that support to survivors. And for survivors, please always speak out! We are listening and we are here for you.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and you are not entirely sure who you can talk to please feel free to call: 800.656.HOPE (4673)

This is completely confidential and they can help you find specific ways to get help in your area.

Steps to a Selfless Society by blogger Karly Sacco

Steps to a Selfless Society by blogger Karly Sacco

We live in an individualistic society. People go about their days and sometimes don’t even care to ask the person walking next to them on the street how they are doing or if they need help with carrying their bags. So, it is no surprise that most people have become custom to keeping things to themselves.

It is hard enough for people that have not suffered a traumatizing experience to open up to one another, but let us take a moment to think about how terrifying it would be for those who are survivors of a sexual assaults to speak up about their daily struggles.

One of the main reasons as to why we are so scared to open up about things that have happened in our past, is that we know that the world we live in can be extremely judgmental at times. We are not sure how people will react to some things that have happened to us if we shared them with others that do not understand the subject matter.

In order to make it a little easier for survivors to share their stories, we need to make places such as work and school a safe and positive environment so they can feel comfortable talking about their past.

Education is key. If someone is willing to listen to a survivors story, they have to at least know general information about sexual abuse and the affect it can have on the victim. How a person that has gone through a sexual abuse may feel, and what topics to bring up during a discussion and maybe some things that might be too personal for a group discussion. Once the environment is aware of the statistics and general information, then survivors can express themselves as they wish.

If we all just take a little more time to be less selfish and more selfless, I believe that we can become more trusting in opening up. That is the first step when it comes to survivors coming forward to schools and feeling safe when doing so.

Coming Forward and its Consequences by blogger Joanna

Coming Forward and its Consequences by blogger Joanna

When a survivor of campus sexual assault comes forward to his or her school, there will likely be weeks or months of skepticism, red tape, unwanted attention, and re-hashing of the story before the victim gets any sort of justice or closure. It’s no wonder as many as 80 percent of on-campus sexual assault cases go unreported, and it’s understandable – many victims of sexual assault just want to heal and move on, not deal with administration for months on end. Not to mention that in college, your life is so closely intertwined with those of your classmates that to report a sexual assault might feel like shouting it from the roof of the library. It’s scary.

However, unreported sexual assault cases are also scary. How are universities to gauge the prevalence of the issue and take appropriate action if 80 percent of the problem is being suppressed (again, understandably) by victims?

It’s clearly a conflict of interest between the schools and the victims, and the only way to solve such a conflict is for one party to rethink how they handle the problem. In short, schools need to come up with a better way of helping victims navigate the consequences of their brave decision to come forward about a sexual assault. Because right now in America, the whole ‘system’ is one big gray area.

As reported by the Huffington Post in September 2014, less than one-third of reported campus assault cases end in expulsion. This is due to a myriad of reasons – the lines surrounding this particular topic are blurred (especially with the prevalence of alcohol on college campuses), there is no effective federal legislation around the topic (Title IX hasn’t done much to solve the problem), and college administrators often do not give the crime of sexual assault the series consequences it warrants.

Why would someone want to report a sexual assault (and deal with all of the above) when there is such a small chance that justice will actually be served in the end?

It’s undeniable that there needs to be radical change in the way colleges deal with sexual assault. And a bit of good news: there are people voicing this opinion and being heard. Read about this girl who carried her mattress around Columbia campus (and onstage at graduation) in protest of the school’s lack of action against her rapist (http://time.com/3888116/columbia-university-student-mattress-graduation-rape/), and John Krakauer’s new book about how the University of Montata handled a series of assaults (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/03/books/review/jon-krakauers-missoula-about-rape-in-a-college-town.html?_r=0). The Columbia student has become a small celebrity, and “Missoula” is a bestseller. Clearly, the nationwide discourse on this topic is picking up speed, and it seems it will only continue to do so until schools have no choice but to take real, definitive action. In the not-too-far future, we can expect to see a system that allows victims to report their assaults without having to endure more unnecessary pain.