I am so happy that colleges are doing more to educate and help prevent sexual assault.
I truly am. It seems like more people and organizations are talking about sexual assault prevention and response attempting to educate more students everywhere.
And in the recovery and therapy world, we always say that awareness is the first step.
Acknowledging the problem, issue, or behavior we want/need to change is the start of it all.
And then there is discussing the problem. This is an important step too. And it's usually way more powerful to discuss issues in groups and get different opinions and theories. And it's helpful to have each "side' represented and have professionals too to guide the conversations.
Many times there is a huge gap between knowledge and the study of something vs. real actual "street smarts" or experience.
I know that many colleges have hosted "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" and that often times guys wear high heels in a parade or route around campus in order to raise awareness about date rape and sexual assaults. I admire their willingness to look goofy and be vulnerable.
Great idea. And I have always thought highly of the Native American concept of Don't judge anyone until you have walked a mile or a month in their shoes.
But I have to wonder how much of these "Walks" make a difference. Do you think that seeing a bunch of guys walking around in heels helps with prevention? Again, I am not negating the walks. I am sure they create more awareness.
But I also know how hard headed I was at the age of 18, 19, and well, you get the picture.
I tell my story at colleges and I know that it helps because I always have students approaching me after the talks. They tell me that I got to them because I was vulnerable and open.
Because I was real I was able to penetrate their busy and reactive minds.
But being the type A personality that I am. I am always thinking what else can we do?
How can we really cut through the millions of distractions and our "sexy consumer culture" to really reach young men or women?
Our messages of safety and prevention have to compete with the mesmerizing marketing of a powerful, socially acceptable drug.
Alcohol is the most lobbied and advertised DRUG in the world. Entire countries rely on brewing and growing products that are made into some form of alcohol. Alcohol is not bad or good. It's what we do with it. Or better yet, it's the lack of respect we have for it.
Alcohol is a powerful, POWERFUL DRUG. And I think that most of us forget that because it's around us so much. It's like we sort of grow up with it, and kind of take it for granted.
Another thought I have had was about cigarettes. Remember when they could advertise cigarettes on TV? Ok, I don't really remember either, but I know that they did.
I did research for a talk I was giving about quitting smoking; and some of the old adds I found were hilarious! There were doctors recommending cigarettes for all sorts of healthy outcomes.
I also learned that the tobacco companies knew as early as the '50s that cigarettes were linked to cancer, but they lied about this knowledge for years.
And here's the thing. Because of legislation and social pressure, and concerned parents and teachers, the Big Tobacco were required to take the commercials off the air.
And then came the public service announcements when the ex-smokers show how cigarettes messed up their lives. Their stories and pictures were painful, but highly effective.
What if we had more of those? But for alcohol, drugs, and sexual assaults?
We seem to learn best from stories. What if other people told their stories and how a few minutes of bad decisions really affected their lives and their loved ones.
So yes, I already do this. And I know that my message is powerful and makes a difference because people in the audience tell me so every time I speak. I should be out speaking every week somewhere, and I will get there. But there is only one of me.
I'd like to see Public Service Announcements with survivors speaking their truth. I have many scenarios already sketched out. I know so many survivors and their stories who want to make a difference.
And the message is not one of self pity or wallowing or being overly dramatic. Our messages are meant to educate and penetrate the "It Won't Happen To Me" attitude that prevails the majority of young people. The message is to educate and STOP assaults.
How to we address a huge problem. We talk about it. We educate and show other ways and attitudes. My grandmother always said: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Stay tuned for my stories from my most recent college tour.