Have you seen the documentary on Netflix called Audrie & Daisy? If not, we at Support Within Reach recommend it. This may be a bit of a spoiler alert for those who have not watched the movie, but I will try not to give a lot away.

Audrie & Daisy were sexually assaulted by some older high school boys and after that evening their lives changed forever. Did you know that according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 33% of sexual assault victims contemplate suicide and that 13% of sexual assault victims attempt suicide?

Audrie fell into this statistic just nine days after the assault when she successfully completed suicide. Daisy suffered from mental illness for years after and also suffered from addiction. Victims of sexual assault are over three times more likely to be addicted to marijuana, six times more likely to be addicted to cocaine, and 10 times more likely to be addicted to more dangerous drugs, according to RAINN.

When the film Audrie & Daisy was made there was significant cyberbullying of the girls. There was little or no cyberbullying of the boys. After all, “they were successful athletes and no one wanted to ruin their lives.” Sadly, in 2020 Daisy Coleman died by suicide after years of fighting depression and significant trauma.

Daisy did, however, reach a high point in her life when she and other survivors started a high school-based prevention program called Safebae. Safebae targets high schools because of their mishandling of harassment and the overwhelming need for prevention. Along with creating social media campaigns, they also present to schools and clubs, do peer training, and give education on consent, as it pertains to legislation and more.

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This programming is meant to help, support and provide resources from peers to other peers in the school. Support Within Reach can also help provide prevention programming for youth, however, peers tend to respond better when outreach and awareness are done by their peers. You can find more information at: www.safebae.org

Now, to move up to our college-aged students and prevention programming, have you heard of the documentary The Hunting Ground? Again, we at Support Within Reach suggest you watch it! Hopefully, this is not too much of a spoiler, but the documentary takes a look at the impact of sexual assault on campus and the mishandling by college campus administration.

A concern that was addressed in the film was that schools were covering up sexual assault. It appeared that they were more concerned with their reputation and the impact on fundraising than the focus on sexual assault would have. Also, the dangerous changes made to Title IX (college’s guidelines for handling sexual assault allegations) under Betsy DeVos have not helped college-aged victims and survivors of campus sexual assault.

Women ages 18-24 who are college students are three times more likely to experience sexual violence and men ages 18-24 who are college students are five times more likely to experience sexual assault, according to RAINN. Did you also know that 21% of LGBTQ+ college students have been sexually assaulted, which are rates significantly higher than their non-LGBTQ+ peers? With the RED ZONE (the first four months students are on campus when they are most at risk for sexual assault) coming up next month, prevention programs are needed.

“It’s on US” is a nationally recognized program set up during President Obama’s administration. The programs started after the White House Task Force to Prevent Sexual Assault, in response to the need for prevention programming on college campuses. It’s on Us promotes student organizations on campus to start their own prevention programs, to provide educational tools for campuses and students, and to support resources for victims and survivors of campus sexual assault.

There are many prevention and awareness campaigns outside of It’s on Us that Support Within Reach can help host. Start by Believing was huge at Itasca Community College. Hopefully this year we can bring that to other local universities. We also train residential assistants, educate college classes, host Cookies & Consent week, and hopefully this year we can train Bemidji State University athletes and more as requested. You can find more information about It’s on Us at itsonus.org.

As a community, let’s come together to give our future leaders the best sexual assault prevention programs possible.

Kori Nelson is the Development and Volunteer Coordinator at Support Within Reach.