Sexual assault is a taboo topic in society, and is often used to shame victims into silence. This silence only makes it harder for victims to seek justice and safety, and tragically gives abusers the feeling they can’t get caught.
The narrative about the personal journey of a Lute who went through this trauma, and how easy it was for her to attain the means of safety through Pacific Lutheran University and the legal system, is admirable. The story is hard to share, but it’s an empowering one.
There’s more room for empowerment, though. PLU has given us the tools not just to respond after-the-fact to these situations, but to prevent them from happening in the first place.
One of these tools was the Green Dot program, which was a mandatory part of my orientation experience. Skills such as the three D’s: direct intervention to stop a situation, delegating someone else to safely deal with the situation, and distracting the abuser away from the situation, can stop tragic situations from happening.
They can be awkward. At one off-campus event, I remember having to help a friend to prevent a stranger from taking advantage of my friend’s inebriated roommate.
At first, it involved watching them make out on a dirty carpet while we tried to figure out what to do. Before long, though, we were able to distract the stranger and get our friend out of the situation.
Other programs on campus, such as the Sexual Assault and Prevention Education Taskforce (SAPET) work hand-in-hand with Green Dot. SAPET has reinforced in me that consent has to be enthusiastic and that consent for one form of sex doesn’t equal consent for all sexual activities.
It was amazing to learn how resourceful PLU is for people who, unfortunately, have suffered traumatic situations. Combined with the resources PLU uses to prevent assault from ever happening, I know that our university is serious about keeping students safe and healthy.
It makes me proud to be a Lute.