Engaging Men To Prevent Sexual Assault On College Campuses

Aug 21st, 1970

Engaging Men To Prevent Sexual Assault on College Campuses By: Summer Torres, Program Coordinator (Underserved Populations) Each year, students excitedly flock to college and all the new experiences it brings; however, for 1 in 5 female students, college is a time marred by the trauma of sexual assault.[1]  Since colleges constitute their own community, the majority of victims (90%) know the person who sexually assaulted them.[2]   Survivors often report being incapacitated during the assault with at least 50% of campus sexual assaults being alcohol related, and occurring in familiar places, such as residence halls and house parties sponsored by student organizations.[3]  However, an estimated 95% of sexual assaults on campuses go unreported, for reasons including fear of retaliation, shame, and guilt.[4]   Increasingly, the sexual assault prevention movement has turned its eyes toward campuses to address rape myths that blame women for their assault and excuse assailants for their sexual violence.  One of the entry points into debunking rape myths is engaging men to take an active role to prevent sexual assault on their campus. Lisak’s groundbreaking research demonstrates that 99% of sexual violence is perpetrated by men, yet only 7% of college men commit rape, and 63% of these men admitted to committing multiple offenses, averaging six rapes per perpetrator.[5]  Clearly, men’s engagement requires that men look at their own potential for violence as well as take a stand against the violence of other men.[6]  Jackson Katz, a leader in men’s violence prevention, argues that men must approach gender violence as a men’s issue, which involves men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and demands that men be viewed not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront their peers.[7]  The April 2014 White House Task Force Report listed engaging men as one of the priorities in ending campus violence, emphasizing the need to act, listen, and respond.[8] One of the ways MCASA supports men’s involvement is through the work we do with campus groups.  MCASA engages students, including men, by discussing the importance of consent as a foundation of good communication, which includes conversations around mutual involvement, preventing alcohol-facilitated assault, and listening to their partners and friends.  MCASA also emphasizes the importance that language plays in creating a safe environment as a bystander.  Sexist language, victim-blaming, and name calling create a landscape where women are devalued and disrespected, and are less likely to come forward and report.  MCASA’s Speak Up. Speak Out. campaign provides information for college students to become more confident in the role they play in bystander intervention.  Engaging men as part of this conversation emphasizes that strength comes from personal character and integrity.  Inviting men into the conversation of sexual assault prevents provides the opportunity for them to express how they value the women in their lives, and find ways to bond with their peers that excludes the degradation of the female body.  Men can minimize misogyny from male activities by recognizing the impact of their words and actions, which ultimately creates a culture change within their campuses and communities.     [1]Krebs, C.P., Lindquist, C.H., Warner, T.D., Fisher, B.S., & Martin, S.L. (2007). The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.; Krebs, C.P., Lindquist, C.H., Warner, T.D., Fisher, B.S., & Martin, S.L. (2009). “College Women’s Experiences with Physically Forced, Alcohol or Other Drug Enabled, and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Before and Since Entering College,” Journal of American College Health, 57(6), 639-647. [2] U.S DOJ, “The Sexual Victimization of College Women,” Bureau of Justice Statistics December, 2002. [3] Task Force on College Drinking, “High-Risk Drinking in College: What We Know and What We Need To Learn” 2002. [4] Lisak and Miller, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists,” 2002. [5] Lisak and Miller, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists,” 2002. [6]Berkowitz, A. “Preventing Violence in Relationships: Interventions Across the Life Span.” American Psychological Association,2002, 163-196. [7] Katz, J. “Ten Things Men Can Do To Prevent Gender Violence,” 1999. [8] White House Task Force, “Not Alone,” April 2014. https://www.notalone.gov/assets/report.pdf.

Related Articles