Unfortunately, misconceptions surrounding sexual assault and assault victims still exist. The truth is that it can happen to anyone and has happened to more people than you might think. According to UN Women, one in three women around the world will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes. One in six women in the United States will experience it. Sexual assault is even more prevalent on college campuses; in a study of undergraduate women, 19 percent experienced sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their time at college. While some might say a small urban school like MMC isn’t a “typical” college environment, awareness and prevention of sexual assault should still be a top priority. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, “Student or not, college- age adults are at high risk for sexual violence.”
Despite such a high rate of sexual assault, only 20 percent of female victims ages 18-24 report the incident to law enforcement. People looking from the outside in sometimes assume that victims who don’t report the assault are just “making their incident up.” In reality, there are so many reasons that sexual assault survivors do not take legal action against their aggressor. They might think that their incident was a private matter, that it was not important enough, or they may fear retaliation and social alienation—especially because the majority of victims are assaulted by someone they know.
Victims may also delay reporting or fail to report their assault because the process of moving forward can be overwhelming. The creators of a new app called “Reach Out” are attempting to simplify this process. Once you download the app and select MMC as the default page, all of MMC resources for sexual assault survivors are at students’ ngertips. Available for free download on the iOS App and Google Play stores, the app organizes resources into school-speci c categories like medical care, campus resources, and policies. It also covers useful topics like education and prevention, 24/7 hotlines, and New York State and New York City resources. The app aims to provide support to students at every stage of dealing with a sexual assault incident, from seeking safety and collecting evidence immediately after the assault, to taking legal action and reaching out for long-term emotional support.
Co-creator of the app, Jack Zandi, said, “We felt that survivors of sexual misconduct shouldn’t have to endlessly search and scavenge for crucial information in a time-sensitive situation. We hope that this app helps survivors, and friends or family members of survivors, to nd crucial information and resources, in an easy and intuitive way that would eliminate the inconveniences and frustration of post- assault research.” Whether helping someone else or seeking help as a victim of sexual violence yourself, knowing options and how to access them can provide comfort in an otherwise horrible situation.
“I think this app makes something that’s often dif cult to seek help for more accessible and less intimidating,” said sophomore Nolie Wagner. The month of April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and events held nationwide demonstrated the importance of supporting survivors of sexual assault, and educating others on their role in preventing it.
Sexual assault affects our brothers, sisters, classmates, and best friends every day of the year. As a campus community, we all have a role to play in educating ourselves and challenging other people’s misconceptions. Ultimately we must allow survivors’ voices to be heard and their options to be clear.