As our summer vacation is ending and we are preparing for a new academic year, one thing that we can add to our learning toolkit is preventing sexual assault and violence in our colleges and universities. According to RAINN, more than 50% of college sexual assaults happen in the months of August through November. And students who are in their first few months of their first and second semesters at college are at an increased risk.
Sexual violence impacts everyone and we can play an active role in preventing it. One way to do this is by approaching sexual violence as a social problem, not an individual one. This includes correcting commonly held and damaging social norms such as blaming victims, promoting power over one another, objectifying people, and encouraging harmful views of gender roles. We can practice everyday consent in our lives, including as part of our sexual interactions, demonstrating respect for personal and emotional boundaries. Listen to and believe survivors, giving them space they need to speak up and be heard without judgement. Think about and challenge how we define masculinity and femininity, and how our biases and stereotypes influence us. When safe, hold each other accountable and create a securer environment by not tolerating sexual comments, sexist jokes, and catcalling.
And while violence is preventable, it still does occur. Women ages 18-24 are at an elevated risk of sexual violence, being three times more likely to experience it during their college experience. 26% of female-identifying students and almost 7% of male-identifying students report experiencing rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Many of these cases are never reported, as only 20% of female-identifying victims in college ages 18-24 report to law enforcement. But there is support for those who are survivors of assault. Through new legislation passed in New Hampshire this year, every college should be equipped with a Campus Resource Advisor, specifically designated to provide students and employees resources about sexual assault. In Sullivan County, Turning Points Network is a confidential service in our community to help support survivors through their healing process, working together to find out what works best for you. We offer a 24-hour crisis and support line at (800)639-3130 and text line Monday-Friday between 9AM-4PM at (603)506-6553.
OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN) serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing, and hope.