April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
According to RAINN – “College-age women are at an elevated risk of sexual violence.” The first step to meaningful action in the fight against sexual violence is education. Learn, lead and make a difference!
Women are most often sexually assaulted by someone they know, such as an acquaintance, date, or boyfriend.
Most sexual assault survivors never report to law enforcement.
Campus sexual assault is most commonly committed by serial perpetrators.
- Illicit drug and/or alcohol use by the perpetrator and/or victim
- First-year or sophomore class standing
- Attending off-campus parties
- Peer group norms that encourage rape-supportive attitudes
Sorority members are more likely to experience sexual assault than non-members. More than 50 percent of sexual assault against sorority women occurred in a fraternity function or were perpetrated by a fraternity member.
To support victims of sexual assault, you don’t need to be an expert. Here’s how you can help:
- Believe them, and don’t blame them. As a sister or friend, your job is simply to be there. If you’re unsure what to say, remember that a sincere “I believe you” and “This is not your fault” can be powerful for a victim to hear.
- .Listen. Although it’s natural to be curious, avoid asking questions about what happened. Instead, you can invite them to share as much, or as little, as they’d like. You can say, “I’m glad you felt comfortable sharing this with me. You can tell me as much or as little as you’d like about what happened. Let me know how I can best support you.”
- Validate their feelings. People react differently to sexual assault, and it might not be the way you expected or even how they thought they’d respond. It’s important for you and for them to know that there’s no right or wrong way to process the experience.
- Let them take the lead and support their decisions. You can help by directing them to resources for support and help them explore their reporting and healthcare options, but it’s ultimately their decision to make without pressure from anyone else. There are pros and cons to formally reporting sexual assault, so some people choose to do so while others do not. Remember to support them even if they choose a course of action that you don’t agree with.
- Get help for yourself. Helping someone cope with the experience of sexual assault can be a difficult experience. If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling as you care for someone else, reach out to a confidential resource of your own for support.