THE SPECTRUM | ERIK JONASSON II
It Happens Here is a program to support victims of abuse.
Sexual violence awareness on campus is one of the many things that we don’t talk enough about. The It Happens Here movement was created to combat that issue. It Happens Here was created by Middlebury College and has spread to universities all across the United States since its inception in 2012. On Friday, April 9, the movement was brought to North Dakota State’s campus.
Three students, Halle Rygg, Cydney Coffey and I, brought this project to NDSU in hopes to pass it on and create a safe space where students can share their stories and react to the tragedies that are shared. While NDSU already hosts a “Take Back the Night” event, it is important to show constant support for those who are affected by these terrible acts.
“I really hope it becomes an annual event,” a senior in social work at NDSU said. “It made me have a lot of mixed emotions, but it made me feel as if I wasn’t alone. It really inspired me how courageous people who shared their stories are.” The student continued by saying, “I definitely think it is beneficial. People don’t realize how often it happens. I think it’s a real eye opener to hear the stories and realize it’s happening around you.”
The majority of the audience at the event responded in similar ways. We don’t talk about rape or sexual assault because it makes us uncomfortable. But isn’t that the point? Shouldn’t something as horrible as this make you uneasy when you talk about it?
The purpose of the It Happens Here movement is to give a voice to the survivors. “It gives victims an opportunity to share their story,” Katherine Bulygo, a senior in health communications at NDSU said. “I felt helpless in the audience just sitting there while those who were sharing their story, or those who can even relate suffered. It’s crazy how many women have similar stories.”
Some people responded to the event negatively, saying that it is a trigger or it doesn’t give the opportunity to share both sides. That isn’t the point. Victim blaming and scare tactics are normally used to shame and silence women who have been affected by sexual assault, but It Happens Here allows for them to freely share their story in a place where they are believed and they are supported.
Bulygo remarked, “When something happens to you, it’s hard to find peace because you feel damaged. With It Happens Here, victims and non-victims are able to come together and discuss issues not only in society but also throughout campus. This organization let’s others know they are not alone.”