“What I want you to know, and on no uncertain terms, is that if you’ve held someone’s hand, or someone has held your’s, it’s absolutely ok not to have the answers,” Becca Tieder told the audience on Z Green during Take Back the Night. Tieder is one of the founders of the One Student organization which provides students and their allies with programs, resources and opportunities to address sexual violence. “I did not plan to do this work, sometimes I like to think that this work chose me.” Take Back the Night was just one of the many events created for the month of April, which is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
“InterACT works year-round to provide workshops and information on Bystander Intervention, but in April we help coordinate SAAM with a SAAM-planning committee,” second-year Adilyne McKinlay commented via email. McKinlay is a member of InterACT and participated in the second Bystander Intervention ISP. This year’s events consisted of an art-based speak-out event, a Zine Launch & Bake Sale, movie screenings, a photography based speak out, a Bystander Intervention Workshop, talks on Race, Ethnicity, and Sexual Violence, Men as Survivors and Sexual Violence in the LGBTQ Community, a Title IX Workshop and international empowerment event Take Back the Night.
“We have more events here than either of the schools I worked at previous, and more support too,” commented Campus health educator Mandy Parente. Although this year was Parente’s first time being involved with SAAM at New College, she has been involved in sexual violence prevention on college campuses since 2011. “I feel that on this campus people are dedicated to it, people are passionate about it, whereas at other schools it’s just another event… so here seeing how much effort goes into it and how the focus on interACT really put forth just so much passion, so much energy, and are so excited to do this and how all the student body responds to it too, has been pleasantly surprising.”
“This year we tried hard to make it a group effort,” co-president Shelby Statham wrote. “So the entire InterACT and SAAM Planning Committee members all handled organizing different aspects of SAAM…. I think this year went really well, all of our events had great discussion, it was nice to see new people at events.”
Parente, in describing take back the night said “We had take back the night last week and that was super powerful, and just such a great moment for the students who were there and for the survivors who got to have that kind of healing piece of SAAM, and that’s, to me, the whole point behind SAAM, is to encourage survivors to reach out and get the help that they need and to feel that support that most of the year, were not talking about these things and not being as supportive as we could be. So to see that happen on this campus was really beautiful.”
Statham wrote she has hopes that attendance will improve in the coming years. “We know that these events are important to this campus, we’ve just got to find the best way to bring everyone together to discuss sexual violence prevention.”
“We had pretty good turnout,” Parente said. “There were a couple of things that only one or two students came to, but sometimes to me that can be a little bit more impact-full for those one or two students who show up.
“I think that one of the most important aspects of the month is not only providing and showing support for survivors, but also having a dialogue about sexual assault, both on campus and in our society.” McKinlay wrote. “I think it’s important to keep in mind that there’s always more to know and to talk about, and attending events can be a show of support itself…. of course a variety of reasons why someone might not attend these events.”
Parente sent out an email with a survey to collect feedback on SAAM events. “We have heard some negative feedback, some survivors being triggered by our events, so we always want to support survivors who are feeling triggered but we also want to help those survivors who feel the healing piece of it. And so my job as a staff member here is to create students who are resilient, who can cope and who can have these conversations and get the help that they need and feel supported. So we are going to look at how to balance those things out… We reduced our advertising this year from last year to try and help that because we had some previous feedback about it, we increased our attempt at looking at the different intersections of sexual violence… there various subcultures we are trying to hit to make sure every survivor on campus feels supported. Overall we just want to continue to support our survivors in any way that we can.”
If you have experienced sexual assault, there are steps you can take to feel safer such as making use of on-campus resources, requesting a schedule or housing change, accessing off-campus support services and or seeking a civil protection order (CPO).
“Sometimes it’s that simple,” Tieder told the crowd. “It’s not grand gestures, it’s just paying attention enough, to take the opportunities when they’re presented. Accept the things you cannot change, give your heart some kindness, acknowledge the things that you’ll do differently starting today, and take a moment and admire yourselves, you have so much in this community, admire one another for all that you’re capable of.”
Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted, cumulating in about 293,000 victims each year, 44 percent are under age 18, 80 precent are under age 30. 68 precent of assaults are not reported to the police and 98 precent of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison. Approximately 4 out of 5 assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, 47 percent are a friend or acquaintance. One of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, 14.8 percent completed, 2.8 percent attempted.
Attempted rape for women by race:
- All women: 17.6 percent
- White women: 17.7 percent
- Black women: 18.8 percent
- Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8 percent
- American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1 percent
- Mixed race women: 24.4 percent
About 3 percent, or one in 33, of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape. 15 percent of sexual assault victims are under age 12.
- 12-34 are the highest risk years.
Child Protective Service responds to a report of sexual abuse every 8 minutes. 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
For 80 percent of juvenile victims, the perpetrator was a parent. 6 percent were other relatives. 4 percent were unmarried partners of a parent. 5 percent were “other” (from siblings to strangers). Approximately 50 percent of all rape and sexual assault incidents were reported to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.
- 7 percent take place in a school.
- 13 percent take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
- 18 percent take place in a public area, such as a commercial venue, parking lot, or park.
Campus Sexual Violence
Male college aged students are 78 percent more likely than non-students to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. Female college aged students are 20 percent less likely than non-students to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. Only 20 percent of female student survivors of college age report to law enforcement while 33 percent of female non-student survivors of college age report to law enforcement.
Information for this article taken from