First off, I apologize for not posting in the past few weeks. I’ve been bombarded with schoolwork, real work and job apps, as well as the responsibilities that accompany my position as senior co-chair of PREPARE – the student-led Policy Group on Rape Education, Prevention and Response at Wake Forest University.
Today we began the selection of 2015 Facilitators — a class who will be specifically trained to present rape education programs to incoming students during Orientation. In the fourth and final year of my involvement, I sat across the table from and interviewed 25 of 51 first-year students and sophomores. Applicants talked candidly about their interests and posed thoughtful and innovative ideas to raise awareness and education efforts on campus.
Most notably, some candidates discussed the way in which support systems like PREPARE and the SAFE Office had already come in handy for themselves and for their friends. In other words, these students have been at Wake Forest for a minimum of two months and a maximum of 11 months and have already encountered incidents of sexual assault or rape either firsthand or through a friend confiding his or her experience.
Let that soak in.
As I listened and took notes, I felt tears fill my eyes. The voices of various applicants began to blend together, forming a voice that both haunts and motivates me. It is the voice of survivors. It is the voice of friends who feel other’s pain as their own. You see, I am thankful that the resources PREPARE shared at Orientation provided needed support for students. But for those tears, for the reason I feel absolutely obligated to write this right now — it is because of the sobering reality that so many men and women have or will experience sexual assault or rape in their lifetimes.
To me, this means two things. First off, that survivors are not alone. Second off, that we must do more in terms of prevention. I don’t have the answers. But I want to start the discussion. Because this voice — of I, of we, survivor, friend, confidante, advocate — needs to be heard. And there are people here who want to listen.
If you or a friend need support or advice about an incident of sexual assault or rape, please call PREPARE Student Advocates at 336.671.7075. It is completely confidential and available 27/7. You may say as much or as little as you like or meet in person. The SAFE Office is also completely confidential and available 24/7 at 336.758.5285.