Today, I took a pledge to help end sexual assault on college campuses. As a woman, mother, and the Director of the Office on Women’s Health, this is a deeply personal issue for me. Before I ask you to join me in taking this pledge, here are the facts.
- One in five women in the U.S. today is sexually assaulted while in college. For most women, it happens early in their college career when they are freshmen or sophomores.
- In the majority of cases (75–80%), a young woman knows her attacker. It may be an acquaintance, classmate, friend, or current or former boyfriend. What’s more alarming is that many of these offenders sexually assaulted women before.
- In most instances, the woman does not report what happened and is left feeling isolated, ashamed, or to blame.
Based on these numbers, it’s safe to say that each of us knows at least one young woman whose college experience included sexual assault. No woman should ever feel afraid or be in danger on a college campus. No woman should ever be assaulted. That’s why I pledged to help stop sexual assault. And I’m asking you to join me in making the same pledge on ItsOnUs.org.
The newly launched It’s On Us campaign is a program of the Center for America Progress, in partnership with the Office on Women’s Health and the White House Council on Women and Girls. It’s On Us aims to change the way everyone thinks about sexual assault. Instead of viewing it as something that happens only between a victim and an offender, It’s On Us wants everyone to know they have a role to play in preventing sexual assault. The campaign includes public service announcements, social media outreach, partnerships with national organizations (e.g., sports organizations, national fraternities and sororities), and grassroots efforts to get students to take a pledge against sexual violence. Through this campaign It’s On Us is calling on men and women, friends and bystanders, college faculty and administrators, and anyone else to be part of the solution. Together, we can create an environment — whether it’s a dorm, a locker room, a club or a bar, or an entire campus — where sexual assault is unacceptable.
What can you do? First, go to ItsOnUs.org and take the pledge and make a personal commitment to help keep women safe by not being a bystander to sexual assault. Then, work with others to create an environment that actively prevents assault and does not condone related behaviors. Most importantly, if you suspect someone is taking advantage of a woman who can’t consent, do something about it. Intervene, stand up for her, or escort her to a safe place.
It’s up to all of us to end sexual assault. If not us, who?
For more information visit the It’s On Us website to learn more, and take the pledge.