Know What to Do if You or Someone You Know is Assaulted
Everyone deals with trauma differently. There is no ‘right’ way to act after being raped or abused. If you want to speak to a therapist or advocate your local crisis center can help you find someone to talk to for free. Survivors often forget or skip caring for themselves physically, it’s important to eat, drink water, rest, and, if you’re up to it, exercise to stay healthy as your body is healing. Advocates at your local crisis center can help you with a self-care plan. Keeping a journal can also be a great way to get your emotions out in a safe, private way. No matter what know that there are always people who support and care about you.
Know The Law & Your School’s Sexual Assault Policy
Title IX, The Clery Act, and The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) guide how colleges have to respond to sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on campus.
Many colleges are rewriting their policies to keep up with changes in these laws and to best help victims. If you know these laws and your school’s policies you’ll be able to pinpoint where changes need to happen. All colleges must have a Title IX Coordinator who understands these laws and works on the school’s response to sexual violence, if you know who the Coordinator is on campus then you’ll know who to go to with concerns. Not everyone on campus is a confidential person, many campus staff have to report to the school if you disclose a sexual assault. You can ask if a person is confidential before you disclose!
Understand Your Numbers
Know how your college compares to the rest of the country. Schools are required to make their crime reports public knowledge, so it should be easy to see sexual violence on your campus by the numbers. Keep in mind that rape is the most underreported crime, so the numbers reported will not reflect the true incidence of rape on your campus, but it can give you a place to start setting goals for change.
Listen to Other Survivors and Students
The voices of survivors are vital in making change on campus. Not only do stories bring life to statistics and numbers, they help to make the problem of rape on campus real for people who may be skeptical. Stories are a powerful tool for change. It’s important to remember to be respectful when others share their stories, and always get permission before you share anyone’s personal experience in your prevention campaign.
Spread the Word
Now that you know the facts, make sure everyone else knows them too. Social media, rallies and marches, information tables, there are dozens of creative ways to raise awareness! The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is a great resource to support you in planning events and making change on your campus.
Step In and Speak Out
When you see something wrong- street harassment, someone at a party who is very drunk, someone yelling at or intimidating their partner- and you feel safe enough to step in do it! Make a distraction, get the vulnerable person home safely, and engage friends or other bystanders to help intervene, or call campus police. If more and more people speak out against sexual and domestic violence then perpetrators lose their license to operate.
Whether you are a survivor, a part of someone's support system, or volunteering/working in prevention self-care is necessary. It’s important to identify ways to take care of yourself and decompress to keep yourself from getting burned out or overwhelmed. Binge-watch your favorite show, go to a concert, paint, draw, run. Do anything that makes you feel good! Caring for yourself is as important as caring for others.