Toolkit Spurs Conversations for Next Steps on Campus Sexual Assault

Panelists sit at a table during an event about sexual assault on campus

(November 24, 2014) -- “There are so many ways we can support our friends and keep them safe,” said RAINN’s Candice Lopez following a campus event at Howard University in Washington, D.C. this month. “Whether by asking a simple question, or creating a diversion, friends can provide extra time to assess everyone’s safety.” Lopez, the director of the National Sexual Assault Hotline, joined student survivors and their peers in a discussion about bystander intervention and recovery from assault as part of the It’s On Us campaign’s National Week of Action. Nearly 230 campuses utilized RAINN’s It’s On Us organizing toolkit.

Lopez’s advice echoes the that provided to students in RAINN’s conversation toolkit. During the National Week of Action, campus leaders across student government, Greek life, athletics and academic clubs used the toolkit to help guide panel conversations and handed out its tips during pledge-signing drives. It’s all part of the It’s On Us campaign, launched in September by the White House in partnership with NCAA, Viacom, RAINN and other organizations. Since its launch, more than 114,000 people have signed the It’s On Us pledge. The campaign has released two PSAs, including one that showcases the importance of bystander intervention.

Included in RAINN’s conversation guide are tipsheets on topics such as how to keep friends safe, with ideas including:

→ Distract. If you see a friend in a situation that doesn’t feel quite right, create a distraction
to get your friend to safety.

→ Step in. If you see someone who looks uncomfortable or is at risk, step in. If you feel
safe, find a way to de-escalate the situation and separate all parties involved.

→ Enlist others. You don’t have to go it alone. Call on friends or other people in the area
as reinforcements to help defuse a dangerous situation and get the at-risk person home safely.

→ Keep an eye out. Simply being aware of your surroundings can have a big impact on someone’s life. If you see someone who has had too much to drink or could be vulnerable, try to get them to a safe place.

Organizing an event for your campus or community group? Utilize resources from like four ways to keep friends safe and six ways to respond when someone tells you they’ve been assaulted. If you’re on a campus, refer to RAINN’s checklist of questions for students to ask administrators and policymakers to help assess how informed they are about sexual assault policies in their communities.

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