April is sexual and domestic violence awareness month, but having discussions and bringing about awareness is only the first step. As important as it is to highlight and bring awareness to this, oftentimes, silenced issue, it’s not enough. Action needs to be taken.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Keeping this in mind, the majority of victims are 30 years old, with 54 percent being between the ages of 18-34. With college students being at such a high risk of becoming sexual assault victims, preventive measures need to be taken on campus.
Pamphlets reading statistics and providing emergency hotline numbers is a great resource, but in those cases, we’re reaching out to potential victims when we need to focus on potential predators, so to speak. A focus on working with ways predators can better control their temper, anger, emotions etc. needs to be emphasized just as much as ways for victims to reach out for help. We need to provide services and education to those who may act out aggressively. We need to educate people on how to balance a healthy relationship first before we educate them on how to reach out for help once caught up in an unhealthy relationship. Both sides are equally important and deserve the same attention.
However, sexual and domestic violence prevention resources are widely available both on Keene State College’s (KSC) campus and in the greater Monadnock region. We’re fortunate in that regard because not every area of the country has the same amount or quality of resources available. On a national level, more needs to be done for sure, but when looking at this locally, the Monadnock region does pretty well.
Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention (MCVP), located on Court Street in Keene, New Hampshire, serves all of Cheshire County and 14 towns in western Hillsborough County. MCVP offers resources and support for victims of sexual and domestic violence such as a 24-hour crisis hotline, peer counseling in-person and over the phone, referrals and more. Also, they also provide victims with temporary shelter at confidential locations. KSC also offers prevention resources.
Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Peer Educators, which is coordinated by the Counseling Center at KSC, conducts programs and events across campus from Greek organizations to residence halls. According to KSC’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Intervention page, “Any student interested in helping MVP with it’s mission, ‘Students Helping Students End Sexual Violence,’ is welcome to contact the MVP Advisor Forrest Seymour (email@example.com, 603-358-2047) or fill out the online application.” The Sexual Assault & Violence Education (SAVE) Committee is also available and open to the entire KSC community working in collaboration with MCVP. Together, they work to put on events throughout the year. According to KSC’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Intervention page, “These events include the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Men’s March to End Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence,’ the ‘Shout Out Against Sexual Assault,’ the ‘Silent Witnesses’ and more.” Along with these events, every year for orientation, KSC puts on the student production No Zebras, No Excuses. This production focuses on bystander mentality in scenarios that are presented including sexual assault, violence and other issues that may arise on a college campus.
As important as it is to encourage sexual and domestic violence prevention, we at The Equinox feel encouraging those in risky situations to speak out is equally important. Incidents involving sexual and domestic violence are frequently brushed under the rug. Victims should not be silenced, and with all the resources available in our region, those voices can be heard. Victims should be encouraged to speak out and hold predators accountable for their actions. We need to find effective ways to nail home the fact that violent behaviors are unacceptable at a young age. We need to embed this in the minds of children before they even have the chance to get involved in their first relationship. We need to start young and not wait until it’s too late, when these habits and behaviors are already learned. Teaching people methods of balancing healthy relationships at a young age may lead to a reduction in sexual and domestic violence.