It’s on us. But we can do it.
1. Share resources and groups that help survivors.
The first step in helping survivors heal is to believe them. Research shows that only 2 percent of survivors disclose their sexual assault to the police.
Once a survivor confides in you, connect her or him with national, community, or campus resources, like a counseling center, advocacy office, the police, or a public safety group. Remember your role is to help; if the survivor doesn’t want to seek outside assistance, don’t insist.
Universities that receive federal funding must be in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While Title IX is traditionally known for equity in athletics, it covers all realms of gender equity and prohibits sex-based discrimination in education, including discrimination against pregnant and parenting students and women in STEM programs, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Get the facts on your rights under Title IX.
3. Take action on the Campus SaVE Act.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) was signed into law on March 7, 2013. The law includes a section addressing sexual violence on campus — specifically sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Stakeholders have just come to an agreement in negotiating regulations, which are needed to implement the law. Successful implementation will take input and energy from students, so meet with campus administrators now and ask what their plans are to comply.
4. Write an op-ed.
Op-ed pieces can inform and influence readers and can bring considerable attention to this cause. Research campus sexual assault, and then write an op-ed for a school, local, or national newspaper or even a blog.
5. Use social media. (Tumblr, you’ve already got this.)
Social media tools can help spread awareness and advocate for social change. Use hashtags to start or join in conversations on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram. (For example, use #SAAM, which stands for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, during the month of April.) On Facebook, post articles and share events to get your friends in the know.
6. Start a conversation on victim-blaming and how to stop it.
Host an on-campus brown-bag to talk about how victim-blaming occurs and how can we prevent it.
Bystanders can help prevent or stop sexual violence on campus and in other communities. Connect with programs that teach bystanders how to intervene in situations that involve sexual violence.
8. Get involved in national campaigns.
Here are a few of our favorite initiatives that you can take part in.
- The Clothesline Project— Have people affected by sexual violence decorate a shirt and hang it on a public clothesline as testimony to the problem of sexual violence.
- V-Day — Hold a performance or a film screening to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
- White Ribbon Campaign — Wear a white ribbon, and make a personal pledge to “never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”
- Take Back the Night — Take part in this after-dark march that is popular on college campuses, and make a statement that women have the right to be in public at night without the risk of sexual violence.
- International Day against Victim-Blaming— Use the hashtag #EndVictimBlaming on April 3, the online day of action to speak out against victim-blaming and to support survivors, and get involved through social media.
- Denim Day in LA and USA — Wear jeans on April 23 to protest and raise awareness of the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Order the Denim Day Tool Kit, and raise awareness in your workplace, neighborhood, or community.
Help out at your local rape crisis center. If there isn’t a local or campus center near you, consider volunteering at the national level with RAINN’s online hotline.
10. Apply for funding.
On a rolling basis, AAUW branch members can apply for LAF Campus Outreach Grants and receive up to $750 to hold an event about sexual assault on a local campus. Some current and past AAUW fellowship and grant recipients have focused their work on sexual violence issues, and you can, too.