I’ve debated back and forth as to whether to write this post. However at the end of the day, my hope is to remind #SAPros to about the vastness of the serious issue of sexual assault.
The “It’s On Us” Campaign, launched by President Obama last week, is a long awaited step towards attacking a serious problem that has plagued our society and campuses. In our work, as Student Affairs Professionals, it’s one of the most painful parts of our jobs when we see one of our students come to us for guidance and help as victims. Now with this campaign, the long overdue education and more importantly conversations are beginning to happen.
It’s a very personal issue. We all know a victim of sexual assault. Whether we know it or not. And it may be female OR male.
#SAPros are HUGE advocates and champions for the underdogs and victims. But it’s also where we tread a fine line of marginalizing other populations, in this case, the male population. Approximately 3% of males report being victims of sexual assault. While 3% is significantly lower than the 17% of females who report being victims of sexual assault, both statistics should never have been more than 0%.1
We will have both female and male students come to us and we must advocate for them both. We must eliminate sexual assault, regardless whether it results in female or male victims.
Perhaps I’m coming to this perspective because of the personal experience of being a victim, but have never felt comfortable with accepting it until recent years. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had both male and female students who have been victims come to me for advice and help.
But my point today is that, as #SAPros, yes, let’s advocate, and let’s champion for our students, our friends, our family, and each other who have been victims. But let’s make sure to champion for ALL victims purposefully and strategically. Let’s not fall into the trap of marginalizing male victims in our fervor of advocating for female victims. Let’s empower both female and male students, staff and faculty to educate and advocate for sexual assault victims without placing the blame on a single gender. Regardless male or female everyone can play a role in preventing sexual assault. Everyone is a peer to someone and it’s on each of us to prevent more victims.
Sexual assault is sexual assault whether the victims are female or male. Sexual assault is sexual assault whether the perpetrator is female or male. Sexual assault is sexual assault and it needs to stop no matter what the situation is.
I think Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of “It’s On Us” partner the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) gives us our best charge as #SAPros:
“One of the most effective ways to prevent rape is to mobilize men and women on campus to join together in stopping perpetrators before they can commit a crime,” Berkowitz said in a statement. “We also need to make sure that if a friend is sexually assaulted, students know how to support him or her and ensure they have access to the help they deserve through the National Sexual Assault Hotline and local resources.”2
- U.S. Department of Justice. 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2003.
Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!
Note: Thanks to @cmmasiroff for supporting and editing this for me