You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Survivors With Know Your IX.
This episode happened because sexual assault at colleges and universities is at an epidemic level. That the Rolling Stone reporter was bad at her job and may have coerced sensationalized details doesn’t change the pertinent fact: one in five female students will be assaulted during their time on campus. These students will regularly not be believed, have little legal recourse, be forced to transfer, be expelled for reporting, end up saddled with tens of thousands of debt from schools where they won’t receive degrees and deal with the trauma the rest of their lives.
Federal law designed to create gender parity — Title IX — exists to provide a framework for students dealing with sexual assault. Known better for its affect on athletics — schools can’t have twice as many male sports teams as women’s sports teams any more, for example — Title IX has much broader applications that are woefully under publicized and under utilized.
And so, the organization Know Your IX was created in 2013 to educate students, advocates and supporters on everything from how to file a complaint under Title IX and where to find a lawyer to how to speak to the media and handle school retaliation. Know Your IX is a national group run by survivors and driven by students seeking to end campus sexual violence. Their importance cannot be overstated: campus culture is nearly impossible for one person or even a group to change during the very short time they’re enrolled. Change simply takes longer than a couple of years. A grassroots network that holds schools accountable while helping informing the public at large and supporting survivors is critical to making all colleges safe for all students.
KnowYourIX.org has a number of easy, practical ways to assist their work and make a difference in your community. Obviously, you can always donate if you have the means; they do a lot of trainings and free help, so the money goes to good use.
Their “Provide” tab has resources for victims of campus sexual assault including how to file a complaint and information on trans discrimination and the affects of immigration status. The “Related Resources” tab prepares victims for dealing with school retaliation and new legislation. And the “Activism” tab guides students who want to change their campus culture and join the movement.
Perhaps the most broadly helpful and important part of the website is the “I Want To” tab. When you click “support a survivor” you jump to a detailed list of dos and don’ts for family, friends, professors, activists and advocates. The way you — yes, you and absolutely every one — respond to stories about sexual assault in the media and in plot lines and in pop culture affects the survivors in your life. Even if you don’t know that you know someone, the numbers say you do.
So take the fifteen minutes to prep yourself in case a friend or family member comes to you. Being supportive in that situation isn’t intuitive and doing a little reading ahead of time can mean a world of difference to someone who needs you in that moment. What they need first and foremost is for you to simply believe them.
The hashtag #BelieveSurvivors was created long before the Rolling Stone article that prompted the current wave of discussion and victim blaming. It sounds so simple, but it is so rare in our culture for a victim to be believed implicitly by the person they reach out to. If you take nothing else out of this episode and the work that groups like Know Your IX do, let it be that two word directive: believe survivors.
Read and signal boost the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag
Hear the segment in context:
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich