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It Should Never Happen to You

Dr. Sue Swearer / September 28, 2015

Our mission at Born This Way is to support the wellness of young people and part of that mission involves having difficult conversations about difficult topics. Lady Gaga’s new song, “Til It Happens to You” is now available on Apple Music  and shines the light on a very important problem: campus assault and rape. The song, written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga contributed to a film called The Hunting Ground, documenting campus assaults and rapes that have been an age-old problem, yet one that has not been openly discussed.  You can watch the PSA directed by Catherine Hardwicke on Vevo (A portion of proceeds from the sale of the song will be donated to organizations helping survivors of sexual assault). “’Til It Happens to You” aims to open up the conversation about campus assault and rape.

Here are some of the research facts about campus assaults/rapes:

  • While sexual assaults are under-reported, a recent study suggests that 1 in 5 young women have been sexually assaulted on college campuses.
  • In a 2004 study of women raped on college campuses, 72% of the women were raped while intoxicated (Mohler-Kuo, M., Dowdall, G.W., Koss, M.P., & Wechsler, H. (2011). Correlates of rape while intoxicated in a national sample of college women. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65, 37-45).
  • While the statistics on campus assaults are scary, there are prevention and intervention programs that can help.
  • An online intervention program, “Take Care,” was found to increase bystander intervention behavior when witnessing campus violence by teaching students what to do and where to seek help (Kleinsasser, A., Jouriles, E.N., Mc Donald, R., & Rosenfield, D. (2015). An online bystanders intervention program for the prevention of sexual violence. Psychology of Violence, 5, 227-235).
  • University campus health centers provide campus leadership, education, and mental health services regarding campus violence. Check out the CARE program at the University of Maryland:  and the PREVENT program at the University of Nebraska.
  • Fortunately, increased awareness of campus assault and rape has led to increased programming to prevent violence.

Despite the increased research in this area and increased public attention to this very important topic, many campus assaults go unreported. We want to change this statistic by empowering everyone to SPEAK OUT AGAINST VIOLENCE.

What can we all do?

  1. Create a buddy system. Don’t go to a party alone. Make sure someone is there to watch out for you and to make sure that you get home safely.
  2. Identify a designated friend who won’t drink at the party and who will be responsible for making sure you’re okay. Do the same for your friends.
  3. Know that drinking/drugging are risk factors for assault and violence. Think before you take a drink/do the drug.
  4. Bring your own water and/or your own drink. Don’t put your drink down or give it to someone you don’t know.
  5. Be wary of strangers—people who are charming and who want to get to know you quickly are most likely the people whom you should be worried about.
  6. Be a good friend and stick with your good friends.
  7. Have conversations with your friends about safety. Create a safety plan.
  8. Don’t walk alone at night. Most campuses have escort programs and campus police who can help if you’re alone.
  9. Consider carrying pepper spray on your keychain.
  10. Find campus supports at your campus counseling center. Get involved with domestic violence and assault resources in your community.

It is brave to seek help and we want you to know that there are many supports for people who have experienced assault in all forms. You are brave – stand up and use your VOICE to seek support for yourself and others.

With Gratitude,
Dr. Sue