9 Ways You Can Help Sexual Assault Survivors On Campus Right Now
The Trump administration’s ever growing list of civil rights’ rollbacks just got a little longer. On Sept. 7, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the White House’s plan to revoke Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors, an Obama-era directive that spurred colleges to do more to protect survivors of campus sexual assault.
According to the website Know Your IX:
[Title IX] prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding (the vast majority of schools). While Title IX is a very short statute, Supreme Court decisions and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education have given it a broad scope covering sexual harassment and sexual violence. Under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond and remedy hostile educational environments and failure to do so is a violation that means a school could risk losing its federal funding.
In simpler terms, Title IX instructs schools to responsibly deal with sexual assault by proactively handling allegations, promptly exploring claims, and providing survivors with resources and accommodations so they felt comfortable at school.
As the Washington Post reported, Devos states Title IX is “a system biased toward finding a student responsible for sexual misconduct.” However, her statement could not be farther from the truth. The U.S. criminal justice system seldom protects victims of sexual violence, with the majority of perpetrators — 994 out of every 1,000, to be exact — never seeing jail time. Additionally, while there is no exact percent, most studies suggest only 2 to 8 percent of rape is falsely reported.
Rescinding certain protections afforded by Title IX is extremely detrimental and heartbreaking for many survivors of sexual assault. This decision painfully reaffirms this administration's disrespect for women, and all survivors of sexual assault. If you or someone you know will be affected by the removal of Title IX, here are a few calls to action and resources that support survivors on campus:
Check In With Your Friends
Sometimes survivors, especially those of us who struggle with common rape stigmas, have trouble asking for support. Continue to check in with each other, and create spaces at your colleges that are safe for survivors. That could be anything from finding a feminist club to simply getting together with a friend.
Write To Your Legislators And College Administrators
Before DeVos' announcement, 20 state attorney generals wrote a public letter urging the Department of Education (DOE) to keep Title IX protections instated. Follow their lead and urge your local legislators to take a stand against this decision. Also, if you attend a college, consider writing a letter to your administration asking them to support survivors despite the Trump administration's rollback on Title IX.
Make A List Of Free, Local Resources For Survivors
Gather a list of free community resources, such as sliding scale therapy programs, free support through rape crisis centers, or even online therapeutic groups. Survivors may struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, which can make seeking help independently much more difficult. Hang up flyers on campus with this information, so it is easily accessible (and anonymous) to anyone who may need resources.
Connect Sexual Assault Survivors With The National Organization End Rape On Campus
End Rape On Campus is a nationwide advocacy group that helps survivors who were assaulted on campus. They aid survivors in filing federal complaints, finding mental health treatment, connecting with lawyers, and much more. Annie E. Clark, EROC executive director and co-founder, is a well-known advocate who was featured in the award-winning documentary The Hunting Ground, where she discussed her personal experiences as a survivor of on-campus sexual assault.
Attend Rallies Or Protests In Support Of Survivors
Like with any other civil rights issue, survivors need to know you will be our accomplice, not just our ally. SlutWalk is a global movement that fights to end rape culture and features a large walk every fall to empower survivors. Additionally, the website for Sexual Assault Awareness Month offers advice, tools, and resources for campaign planning.
Join A Committee That Combats Sexual Assault
Many state coalitions against sexual assault will form local committees or youth councils to discuss ways to better support survivors. For example, the national campaign Start By Believing, which focuses on sexual assault education, organizes local chapters you can get involved with.
Donate. Donate. Donate.
If you do not have enough spare time to commit to events or a committee, consider regularly donating to organizations that support sexual assault survivors.
Become A Trained Advocate
If you are passionate about empowering sexual assault survivors, seek out training in your area to become an official survivor advocate. The National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence provides a list of upcoming trainings across The United States, ranging from one hour webinars to full, 40-hour training.
Lastly, Disconnect From Social Media When Needed And Practice Self-Care
Though this not necessarily a resource for allies, it's an important reminder for all those affected by sexual violence. As a survivor myself, developing the skills of self-care and disconnection during the 2016 election cycle was essential to my mental and physical health. Your wellness should always be your top priority. Kick back with this concha bath bomb, put on some music, and take care of yourself before you get back to the revolution.
Survivors deserve to feel safe, heard, and supported. Even if Trump's administration chooses to stand with perpetrators rather than survivors and statistics, you can make a difference for survivors.