On March 25, the documentary “It Happened Here” was shown at the Marquee Theater at Union South. “It Happened Here” follows five female college students as they recount their experiences with sexual assault at their respective schools, and the activism that grew out of those events. The documentary illustrates how sexual assault impacts the lives of students and their communities, and highlights the efforts of student activists to affect change.
The film was followed by a panel discussion with Sam Johnson, the violence prevention specialist with UHS EVOC; Jamie Temple, the survivor services coordinator at UHS EVOC; and Tonya Schmidt, the Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Student Title IX and Clery Compliance.
“Each survivor’s needs are different when it comes to healing from a sexual assault,” says Temple. “Survivors, especially student survivors, inherently know that reporting their assault comes with a social risk, particularly when the perpetrator is someone they know.”
This film shows the journey of these five women as they deal with denial, fear, social isolation, and frustration. It also shows their strength, and their efforts to change how sexual assault is managed at their schools.
“In addition to ensuring that student survivors are supported in achieving their academic success, UW-Madison continues to invest in primary prevention efforts and programming,” says Johnson. “The goal is to assist students in developing the knowledge and skill sets they will need to challenge disrespectful attitudes and harmful behaviors that contribute to sexual and relationship violence.”
This film sparks an important conversation about rape culture, consent, and respect; through these conversations, we can discover proactive ways to make students feel safe and supported on campus.
Appropriately, the national campaign focus of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April is on college sexual assault. The event highlighted services offered by the university for survivors, and hopefully served as a launching point for students to be engaged in preventing sexual assault on campus.
For more information on the services available to you, visit http://www.uhs.wisc.edu/assault/sa-resources.shtml. Students, faculty, and staff can call, email, or visit UHS EVOC during open access hours to learn more about resources and options for student survivors.
– Jodi Stern, UW-Madison #ItsOnUs campus organizer