By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
It’s September, which means it’s back-to-school time. Across the country, college students are getting settled into their new classes and gearing up for the academic year ahead. It’s an exciting time for many students, as they embrace new opportunities for learning, friendships, and personal growth.
At the same time, students, faculty, and staff on many college campuses right now are facing a challenging time. These days, it’s difficult to escape news stories about sexual assault on college campuses, and especially the problematic ways that many colleges have handled sexual assaults in recent years. Consider the following:
Intimate partner violence and sexual assault are difficult issues for college personnel and students to address. Challenges can arise due to students’ close living quarters. For example, a survivor of an abusive relationship who participated in our research said of her partner, “We were in college, so, while we didn't live together, we sort of did by the nature of the dorms.” Living arrangements on college campuses can complicate safety planning for victims who may live near their abusers. There are many other factors that can complicate the support available to survivors, including the possibility of living far away from supportive friends and family members, unclear policies on their campus about reporting, and peer norms that may directly or indirectly promote violence and abuse.
This month at See the Triumph, we’re focusing on how to end the stigma that survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault face on college campuses. We believe that colleges and universities can work proactively to promote safe campus environments and prevent abuse, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable. Throughout the month, we look forward to hearing your ideas and experiences with strategies you’ve seen colleges use to achieve these goals.