Community cultures that are protective against sexual assault will happen when people—students, faculty, staff, and administrators—come together and actively work to make our communities safer and more supportive to people of all identities, including survivors. This is hard and takes effort, but it is possible. We can start by becoming aware of and acknowledging the reality of sexual assault, talking about it more openly, and strategically advocating for prevention efforts. A huge component of doing this involves becoming aware of intersectionality and the ways in which people living at the margins (e.g., LGBTQ+, people of color, undocumented students) are statistically more likely to experience both interpersonal violence and barriers to accessing supportive services. A good way to address this is to ensure that members of marginalized communities have access to someone whom they can bring concerns.
Become a trauma-informed community
Another key piece of creating cultures that are protective against sexual assault—and interpersonal violence across the board—is to create a culture that’s trauma-informed. Here are some essentials that create the foundation of a trauma-informed space:
- Awareness of and attention to vicarious traumatization and its impact (essentially, how hearing about the trauma of others affects those listening to traumatic stories)
- Commitment to transparency, predictability, and accessibility
- A willingness to support the agency of the person who has experienced harm
Here are some resources that can help with the creation of a trauma-informed organization:
Also, take a look at the Adverse Childhood Experiences study to understand the prevalence and impact of potentially trauma-inducing experiences.
At the end of the day, the responsibility for creating cultures where people are less likely to experience harm falls on all of us, all the time. We each have something to bring to the work, and our invitation for you is that you identify how you can most contribute to the culture that we are hoping to cocreate.
Association of American Universities. (2015, September 3). AAU Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (2015). Retrieved from https://www.aau.edu/key-issues/aau-climate-survey-sexual-assault-and-sexual-misconduct-2015
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (April 27, 2014). STD & HIV screening recommendations. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/screeningreccs.htm
Ciolkowski, L. (2016, October 15). Rape culture syllabus. Retrieved from http://www.publicbooks.org/rape-culture-syllabus/
Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Glossary of terms. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms
Krebs, C. Lindquist, C., Warner, T., Fisher, B., et al. (2007, December). The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Survey. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. (n.d.). Policy. Retrieved from https://apps.rainn.org/policy/
Sexual Literacy. (n.d.). The column. Retrieved from http://www.sexual-literacy.com/
Sexual Literacy. (n.d.). Why sexual literacy. Retrieved from http://www.sexual-literacy.com/why-sexual-literacy/
Sinozich, S. & Langton, L. (2014, December). Rape and sexual assault victimization among college-age females, 1995–2013. US Department of Justice. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf
United States Department of Education. (2017, September 22). Office for Civil Rights: Sex discrimination, policy guidance. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/frontpage/faq/rr/policyguidance/sex.html
US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. (2017, June 16). Sexual assault. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/ovw/sexual-assault
US Department of Education. (2015, October 15). Title IX and sex discrimination. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html
Wong, A. (2016, January 26). The problem with data on campus sexual assault. Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/01/why-the-prevalence-of-campus-sexual-assault-is-so-hard-to-quantify/427002/
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