The Good News: September 2015

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“Lady Gaga’s powerful new video shows the reality of campus sexual assault.[Trigger Warning]

The best way to combat sexual assault is to believe survivors. To stand beside them when they share their stories. To make sure their voices are heard. –Wagatwe Wanjuki

Lessons Learned

  • “Stranger Danger,” shouldn’t be the focal point of sexual assault prevention. In reality, the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and trusts. Portraying those who commit as “strangers waiting in the bushes” can cause us to look past those who are more likely to inflict harm, and thus, make it easier for them to commit multiple offenses. Furthermore, assuming that all or most offenders are people we don’t know, makes it harder for us to hold offenders accountable when they are someone we know.
  • Offenders target those who are vulnerable, and often use manipulation and coercion in committing acts of sexual violence. Not all sexual assault includes the use of weapons or overt physical force. Understanding this will help us believe and support survivors whose assault may not have left behind any physical evidence of bodily harm. Ultimately, all forms sexual violence are traumatizing.
  • Not believing a survivor’s story, blaming them for the act of violence committed against them, or silencing them because the offender is someone we know is re-traumatizing to that survivor. This traumatization makes it difficult for them to disclose to friends and family, report to law enforcement, and (most importantly) heal and move on to live healthy, happy lives. Do your part to support survivors when they disclose to you. 

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