Prevention Is Possible
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year we are focused on stopping sexual violence before it happens. Respect and equality are the foundation of creating a culture that makes it impossible for violence and oppression to thrive. Prevention begins with us, the individual, and from there will grow.
As part of a White House campaign to fight campus sexual assaults Vice President Biden addressed the audience and all those watching the Academy Awards this February. Biden spoke out against the staggering numbers of sexual assaults happening on campuses across the nation and join the Its On Us campaign. The campaign will focus on bystander intervention.
“Despite significant progress over the last few years, too many women and men on and off college campuses are still victims of sexual abuse,” he said. “Tonight, I’m asking you to join millions of Americans — including me, President Obama, the thousands of students I’ve met on college campuses and the artists here tonight — to take the pledge.”
We can all play a role in the fight against sexual violence and creating safer communities. The bystander effect has a long history in sexual violence. Stories of sexual assaults taking place while groups of 5, 10, or even 20 people look on. What keeps us from stepping up or speaking out when we see a situation arise?
- It’s not my business
- I don’t want to create a scene
- My friend will get mad at me
- Someone else will stop it or step in
RAINN has identified ways that we can be a proactive bystander and make a difference.
Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to step in when something isn’t right. But it should never put your own safety at risk.
A good friend knows how to CARE.
- Create a distraction
- Ask directly
- Refer to an authority
- Enlist others
Creating a distraction can be as easy as walking up to the person and offering food or water. Divert the attention to a new type of activity. Or creating a way to leave by stating “This place is lame lets go somewhere else”.
Ask directly, are you unsure of the situation then walk straight up to the person and ask them if they are ok? Who did they come with? Would they like you to stay with them?
A safe way to intervene is to get a neutral party involved. Refer to the bouncer, bar tender, or perhaps an RA of the situation. And never hesitate to call 911 if you fear for you or anyone else’s safety.
It can be intimidating to approach a situation on your own. Enlist your friend or someone who knows the person at risk to help you.
Even if you are unable through your attempts to stop the situation, it will cause those around to see it in a new light. You create the other bystanders to question their own behavior and can give them the courage to step up.
To become more informed and engaged in the fight to prevent sexual violence check out the following resources on our Facebook and Twitter page. We will be posting community events as well as articles and information for you to share with your family and friends. If you are interested in having WRC give a presentation on Sexual Violence or Domestic Violence please contact our agency 760-547-8800.