The majority of college-age men are uncomfortable in a situation when women are being mistreated. But they usually don’t express their opinions when they think they are the only ones who are uncomfortable. Research shows, however, that bystanders can play a significant role in preventing sexual assault. A Utah State University awareness campaign that will launch on January 30 is asking bystanders to take action.
“We thought this is the next step is for us all to understand when there isn’t consent and when we see warning signs that there isn’t consent, what can we do to step in. How can we as a community protect our fellow students and community members?" said Amanda DeRito, campaign organizer and social media coordinator at USU.
The university is launching a campaign challenging students to intervene when they see warning signs of sexual assault.
“We do know that bystanders can actually prevent sexual assault. The research as shown that third-parties can step in and have a really big effect in these kind of situations," DeRito said.
The “I Will” campaign encourages students to pledge to step in and stop sexual assaults. Students also pledge to believe and help sexual assault survivors as well as stop jokes or attitudes that perpetuate sexual assault.
“We're going to have a pledge drive for the first three days of the campaign in person so that we can really launch it and get people talking about it," DeRito said.
Along with the campaign, USU created a website with resources for sexual assault and harassment victims, including confidential counseling and reporting options.