Sexual Assault Prevention Programs on College Campuses

There are many programs designed to help stop sexual abuse through the power of education and awareness. Below is a list of some of the many prevention organizations in the U.S.; your school might provide something similar, but if not, we’ve also included some advice on how to get the help you need to start your own prevention program.

Most prevention groups focus on awareness, hoping to highlight the frequency and pervasiveness of sexual assault, the situations in which it occurs, and where it is most likely to take place. Take Back the Night was officially organized in Europe during the 1960s, and came stateside in the 70s. Since then, the organization has focused on eliminating sexual abuse and violence in all forms. They now hold nationwide marches and gatherings alongside colleges, domestic violence, and rape crisis centers.

The White Ribbon Campaign is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls. They create workshops, presentations, and talks focused on gender equity, healthy relationships, and a reconsidered image of masculinity. Founded in 1991, they ask men to wear white ribbons in order to symbolize their pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about sexual violence. President Obama has recently pledged to develop a nationwide campaign — called “It’s On Us” — to create bystander intervention training opportunities for men across campuses.

Bystander Intervention Training teaches bystanders present in potentially dangerous situations how to act creatively and quickly on their feet to intervene and avert any violence or abuse. The University of New Hampshire has a comprehensive prevention program, and their bystander training and support is no exception. Students can volunteer to become Peer Advocates through SHARPP (Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program), and attend training through the school’s “Bringing in the Bystander” program. SHARPP distributes a “Checklist for Bystander Action,” which includes important questions to ask before and during potentially harmful situations. All bystander intervention training curriculums stress the importance of the bystander’s safety in any situation; no one should ever intervene if s/he feels that her/his own well-being is at risk.

The Green Dot etc. campaign exists at many colleges — Amherst, American University, Penn State and Princeton, to name a few — and has created a specific curriculum around prevention, with a focus on the development of authentic and positive interpersonal relationships. In addition, they have produced strong, penetrating social marketing campaigns that raise awareness.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) is the country’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. Because they are a national campaign, they focus mostly on raising awareness through large media campaigns, with recognizable spokespersons such as Christina Ricci. RAINN also provides a free and confidential hotline (800-656-HOPE) for victims to find immediate support. Once a year, RAINN hosts a “RAINN Day” on college campuses across the nation. Any school or school representative can sign up for the event and tailor it to his/her school.

RAINN and Green Dot are great places to begin if you want to form and develop a prevention program (or build on an existing one) at your school. If this option is unavailable, or you’d like to look off-campuses for resources and help, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has a comprehensive search that allows you to search for anti-sexual assault organizations by state.