Did you know April is Sexual Assault Awareness month? Are you aware that every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S.? That horrifying statistic would estimate that by the time you finish reading this article, 20 more people have been sexually assaulted. 20 people. That means 20 more victims, 20 more families and friends affected, and countless lives impacted.
The likelihood that you know someone affected by sexual violence is incredibly high. Be it a friend, a relative, or someone from school or work, there is without a doubt someone in your life who has been impacted. Sexual assault is an atrocity that affects millions of people every year, and it is time to take a stand and join the fight against sexual violence.
McDaniel College students are in the perfect position to help. Literally, the perfect position. We are situated less than a mile from the Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County. This is a non-profit organization that provides counseling and support services for victims of sexual assault as well as their families.
They rely on volunteers to help them accomplish all the amazing things they do for the community. There are multiple ways for students to get involved. Janice Kispert, the CEO of the Rape Crisis Intervention Service, suggests multiple options for volunteering, as well as how McDaniel students can reduce and help prevent rape and sexual assault.
The RCIS offers multiple volunteer positions for students, as well as internship opportunities. Students can work in the office, help with fundraisers, and work as volunteers for the 24-hour support hotline. There are no age requirements or prior experience necessary to work in the office and help with mailings and fundraisers, but in order to work the hotline you must be 20 years old and have a licensed vehicle. The RCIS originally had the age requirement to work for the hotline set at 21 years, but because of all the volunteer interest from college students, they reduced it to 20 years.
Janice Kispert also provided advice on how students can reduce the prevalence of sexual assault. She urged us to stay in groups when going out, going to the bar, or meeting new people. Safety in numbers and knowing where your friends are at all times is incredibly important, especially when drinking. Being aware of your surroundings is especially important as well, and by being aware you can protect yourself and others.
She also emphasized the importance of stepping in to help if you see a situation that could lead to a sexual assault. If you see someone being approached or harassed, let someone know or get help. You could be the difference between someone going home safe or being assaulted. Be proactive. The RCIS has partnered with Campus Safety to provide a self-defense program in the form of a Rape Aggression Defense class, which will be offered later this year.
By reaching out and volunteering with the RCIS or making an effort to be proactive in the fight against sexual assault, we can make a monumental difference. Janice referred to sexual assault as a “silent epidemic” and I have never heard a more accurate description of the prevalence of sexual assault. It is so incredibly common but not commonly talked about. It is time for us to join the fight and become part of the solution.
In any way you choose to volunteer, you will be making a huge difference. For more information and to start the volunteer application process visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-857-0900.