By: Connie Klimek
If you saw someone being physically assaulted, then one minute later, you saw it happen to another person and another, would you care?
“Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, ” according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, RAINN.
The unfortunate reality of sexual assault is that more often than not, it happens behind closed doors. Yet, the lack of witnesses does not conceal the crime. As this abuse is especially common for individuals ages 18-24, it is crucial that as a campus community we address this dehumanizing crime to support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for the trauma they inflict.
“Around the world, at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime,” according to Lori Heise et. al in “Population Reports: Ending Violence Against Women.”
As most people take action based on what they see, these statistics should be alarming calls to action.
So, as a student, faculty, staff or community member at IU South Bend, what impact can you have? First and foremost, you can signal that you are a safe place for survivors by wearing teal. Right, not the most popular color in your wardrobe – however, if you attend “Take Back the Night” on April 20, you can receive a teal ribbon for free. Additionally, every fabric and craft store most likely has teal ribbons or yarn. I found some for less than two dollars at Walmart.
Now that you have some teal on, what more can you do? IU South Bend is hosting several events to educate about the realities of sexual assault, share resources within IU South Bend and the local community to provide comfort and aid for survivors, and demonstrate how to respond to a friend or loved one who disclosed that they are a surviror. Education on sexual violence and implications for victims is necessary for every person, whether they know a survivor or not.
So, where can you find these events? Titan Atlas and The Daily Titan are my go-to news outlets for campus-wide events.
Here are just a few this month that will help you educate yourself about sexual assault:
Coffee with the Chancellor: hear about events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 13 from 3:00pm to 4:30pm in the University Grill and on Zoom. Hosted by IU South Bend’s Chancellor, Dr. Elrod.
GreenDot Bystander Training: learn how to taken action against sexual assault through your contributions to an intoleration environment to sexual assault as an active bystander who “directs, distracts and delegates.” Taking place Thursday, April 14 at 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. over Zoom. Hosted by the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Contact the host at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, Register for this on Titan Atlas.
Take Back the Night: join a survivor speak-out setting and a march around the campus followed by a light vigil in honor of survivors. Taking place Wednesday, April 20 at 4:00p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in the University Grill. Hosted by the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Questions? Contact email@example.com or visit titanatlas.iusb.edu/event/8018667 for more information.
Each of these events seeks to create a safe space for survivors to know that they have resources as a member of the IU South Bend community, both on and off campus. Counseling services and medical attention, as well as legal services such as no-contact or protective orders, are available. IU South Bend can also accommodate survivors in their academics, financial aid, and transportation and housing needs.
More information on IU South Bend’s resources for survivors can be found at stopsexualviolence.iu.edu.
“For more information or to file a complaint, you may contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence which has been designated to address these concerns; or you may report bias incidents or sexual misconduct via reportincident.iu.edu,” according to IU South Bend’s 2021-2022 Bulletin.
Laura Harlow, M.S., director of institutional equity and inclusive excellence, and deputy title IX coordinator, is a safe staff member on campus to discuss resources with. Harlow’s office is located on the second floor of the Administration Building.
If you are a survivor, please know that you are not alone. Resources and people who want to help you are available in your campus community.
If you are fortunate not to identity as a survivor of sexual assault, please know that muliple people around you do identity as such, even if you may not know it. Your action, education, and advocacy has the potential to contribute to a safer and supportive campus community.
As always, speaking up about important issues like sexual assault can make a big difference, even if you feel that your voice is small. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”