With some of the country’s prestigious colleges and universities under federal investigation for the mismanagement and handling of campus sexual assault claims, policies, and procedures, the current administration has developed a task force and begun spearheading an aggressive campaign to bring awareness to the issue of campus sexual assault. So, where is the urgency?
Despite the heighten attention around campus sexual assault in the media, there still seems to be a lack of discussion, programming and available resources for survivors. As a result, many campus sexual assaults go under or unreported and most survivors suffer in silence given the fact that many campuses are not properly prepared to respond an incident. In addition, campus administration, staff, faculty, medical personnel, clinicians and therapist still seems to be missing the mark when it comes to providing effective reporting measures, survivor support and treatment options. These factors combined help to desensitize the issue and create more complex concerns in the management of survivors and perpetrators. It also makes it even more difficult for survivors to report the assault, heal, and seek out support and/or treatment. Give this lack of preparedness, consequently, many survivors end up dropping out of school, suffering from mental health challenges and/or substance assault issues.
Because sexuality affects how we think, act and even how we relate to other people, it is very important that survivors of campus sexual assault heal however, this can only happen once the survivor feels safe and supported by campus administration, staff, faculty and the community. It is also important for campus administration, staff, and faculty to understand the dynamics of campus sexual assault. They must realize that there is no quick fix. Sexual healing is a process that occurs overtime. It can take several months to several years for a survivor to report the assault, come to terms with it, and begin the process of healing.
The journey to healing from a campus sexual assault is best undertaken only after a survivor is in a stable and safe environment, seamless coordinated services and a significant support system is in place, therefore it is critical for campuses to recognize this need and step up to the plate and begin to make our campuses and communities surrounding the campuses safer. In order to address campus sexual assault campus must first create a culture of healthy sexuality. It takes a coordinated effort from everyone, men must become advocates, comprehensive and culturally relevant prevention programs grounded in best practices, bold awareness campaigns, by-stander interventions techniques, and sexuality training for all campus administration, faculty and staff, community partners and members. In addition to survivor support, there must be anonymous and confidential reporting options, aggressive investigation procedures, perpetrator accountability and perpetrator programs designed to help reduce the likelihood of recidivism. It’s time to stop sweeping campus sexual assaults under the rug.