The importance of sexual assault awareness

Olivia Storey, Assistant News Editor

Every April, we see posters, flyers and clothing all around campus raising awareness for sexual assault and how to prevent it. Although many different departments and organizations host and provide their own events and information, the one that stands out to most students is It’s On Us.

As a survivor of sexual assault, I find it not only important but also imperative that UW-W has an It’s On Us campaign. Resources on how to gain consent and how to intervene as a bystander to a potentially dangerous situation are essential information that everyone should have.

Although you may not own one of the t-shirts or you don’t read the flyers, there’s still ways that you can educate yourself and others on It’s On Us and sexual assault prevention.

For starters, you can take the pledge on It’s On Us’ website.

With two simple clicks, you can promise to always gain consent from another individual when it comes to sex, and promise to always step in if you are near a situation in which someone is at risk of being assaulted.

However, to many people, being a bystander who is able to intervene can be a tricky situation.

Many people admit that they do not know whether or not to step in to prevent an act of violence or assault. They aren’t sure whether the two individuals are joking around, or whether one person just wants the attention or affection.

Many people also admit that they figure someone else is going to do it, and decide not to stand up.

This kind of thought process is most common and is the reason that many bystanders don’t prevent an assault from happening. By assuming that someone else will step in so you don’t have to, we continue the cycle of standing idly by, thinking that someone else will be braver than you.

When you go to take the pledge on the It’s On Us website, you are able to learn more about how to intervene without harming yourself or the potential victim. The campaign provides valuable information that you can use today, tomorrow and even after college.

One by one, we can start to break the trend of assuming, and begin taking a stand when we notice unusual behavior.

It takes only a couple minutes to save someone from the mental and physical toll an assault takes on you. A couple minutes to analyze the situation, check on the person, correct the behavior and help them get home safe.

Next time you’re at the bars or a party, be aware of your surroundings. Notice those who may be uncomfortable or too intoxicated to say no. Take the time to make yourself aware on the core values of It’s On Us, and learn how you may be the one who helps minimize assaults and acts of violence in Whitewater.

Yes, the posters and shirts can be a bit much at times for people. But at the end of the day, it is on us to prevent future assaults from happening. It is on us to make sure we stand up for those who may not be able to. It is on us to make sure our peers, friends and fellow community members are safe.

As they say, It’s On Us.