April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and this year’s focus is on campus sexual assault. With approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men experiencing sexual assault on campus, many students wonder how they can get involved and work to prevent sexual violence and support survivors. We have some ideas on how to get started!
According to activists who have brought the No More campaign to their schools, there are a few easy ways to look at raising awareness*. You can combine these efforts or focus on one area:
- Supporting local programs
Before starting team up with your local or campus crisis center or existing campus sexual assault prevention group and let them know you would like to raise awareness or funds for them. Ask one of their educators to speak to a group or class. Ask for outreach materials to distribute. Make sure that any outreach you do includes crisis lines and contact information for local agencies so that survivors know where to get support. A crisis center sexual assault advocate should be available at live events or film screenings to support someone who discloses or is triggered by the information presented.
Bring awareness to your campus. The national No More website has outreach materials and a tool kit you can download to customize your own outreach materials like posters, selfie picture notes or stickers. You can share their PSAs. Encourage people to get social with written messages, and use hashtags like #yourschoolsaysnomore #nhsaysnomore and #nomore. Place posters in dorms, health centers, or common areas. Team up with other campus organizations or athletic groups to promote the message. Hold a march, a candlelight vigil, or table an event. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s 2015 SAAM It’s Time to Act: Safer Campuses. Brighter Futures and the new It’s On Us campaign have toolkits and free downloadable resources for campus sexual assault prevention campaigns.
Learn more and focus on sharing information with others about the prevalence of sexual assault, prevention, healthy sexuality, consent and the importance of bystander intervention. Write an article for your school paper or share resources with your campus social media site. Ask to hold a screening of a film like “The Hunting Ground” with a panel of local experts or activists. Ask what your school’s administration is doing to prevent sexual assault and support victims. Encourage them to raise awareness through education, social media and events.
Supporting local programs
Find the sexual assault support organization in your area or on your campus and ask for ideas on how you can help. Organize a fundraising event for them; get students involved with their events, intern, or volunteer. Recently after two students at St. Paul’s School learned about the crime of human sex trafficking and the issues of sexual assault, they were inspired to do something to help. They held a bake sale on campus and raised over $500 which they donated towards the cause. You don’t have to raise a huge amount of money to raise a lot of awareness and help your local nonprofit.
New Hampshire crisis centers
National sexual assault organizations listing
*Bringing NO MORE to your school webinar
National Sexual Violence Resource Center SAAM 2015
It's On Us
Prevention Innovations of the University of New Hampshire
Being an Active Bystander at UNH
Not Alone: Together Against Sexual Assault
NSVC Engaging Bystanders to Prevent Sexual Violence Resource List
One Blue String
The White Ribbon Campaign
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes
Sexual Assault Prevention: A Guide for Students, Parents and School Administrators