Steps YOU Can Take Against Sexual Assault – The Official Student Newspaper of Indiana University South Bend
By: Connie Klimek
If you saw someone being physically assaulted, then a 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 sad reality of sexual assaults is that most often they happen behind closed doors. However, the absence of witnesses does not hide the crime. As this abuse is particularly common among people between the ages of 18 and 24, it is crucial that, as a university community, we address this dehumanizing crime to support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for the trauma they inflict.
“Globally, at least one in three women 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.”
Since most people act 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. Agreed, it’s 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. Also, 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 teal, what more can you do? IU South Bend hosts multiple events to educate about the realities of sexual assault, share resources within IU South Bend and the local community to provide comfort and assistance to survivors, and show how to respond to a friend or loved one which revealed that they are a survivor. Education about sexual violence and its implications for victims is necessary for everyone, whether or not they know a survivor.
So where to find these events? Titan Atlas and The Daily Titan are my go-to outlets for campus-wide events.
Here are a few this month that will help you learn about sexual assault:
Coffee with the Chancellor: Check out Sexual Assault Awareness Month events on April 13 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the University Grill and on Zoom. Hosted by IU South Bend Chancellor Dr. Elrod.
GreenDot Bystander Training: Learn to take action against sexual assault by contributing to an environment of sexual assault intolerance as an active bystander who “directs, distracts and delegates”. Taking place on Thursday, April 14 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Zoom. Organized by the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Contact the host at [email protected] for more information, sign up for it on Titan Atlas.
Take Back the Night: Join a Survivor Speaking Box and Walk Around Campus followed by a Survivor Lights Vigil. See you on Wednesday April 20 at 4 p.m. at 6:45 p.m. at the University Grill. Organized by the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Questions? Contact [email protected] or visit titanatlas.iusb.edu/event/8018667 for more information.
Each of these events aims to create a safe space for survivors to know they have resources as a member of the IU South Bend community, both on and off campus. Counseling and medical care, as well as legal services such as no contact or protective orders, are available. IU South Bend can also accommodate survivors for their academic, financial aid, transportation, and housing needs.
More information about IU South Bend’s resources for survivors can be found at stopsexualviolence.iu.edu.
“For more information or to file a complaint, you can contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence which has been designated to address these concerns; or you can report incidents of bias or sexual misconduct via reportincident.iu.edu,” according to IU South Bend’s 2021-2022 Bulletin.
Laura Harlow, MS, Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, is a safe on-campus staff member to discuss resources with. Harlow’s office is located on the second floor of the administration building.
If you are a survivor, know that you are not alone. Resources and people who want to help you are available in your campus community.
If you are lucky enough not to identify as a survivor of sexual assault, know that many people around you identify as such, even though you may not know it. Your action, education and advocacy have the potential to contribute to a safer and more supportive university community.
As always, talking about important issues like sexual assault can make a big difference, even if you feel your voice is weak. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”