It's On Us

By Dana Zillgitt, Regular ContributorSeptember 29, 2015

I have a lot of feelings about the “It’s On Us.” Most of them are stemming from the sole reason that I wish this could have prevented my own assault. I wish this could have landed on the ears of my assailant. I wish so many things could have happened to change that night, even that weekend. But the fact of the matter is, I can’t change what happened to me. And if this campaign can prevent even one rape, even one disregarded reaction to hearing ‘no,’ then sign me up.

Let me go to the front lines to maybe change one perspective that sexual assault and rape are so much more than a hidden women’s issue. It’s so much more complicated and convoluted than many people realize, unless they have direct experience. Not to be cliché, but it’s on all of us to change this epidemic. I’m so unbelievably excited that something is finally being done to shed light on this, because I know that without the love in my life right now and without this campaign coming to existence, I’m not sure where I would be.

I’m sure everyone has heard about the “It’s On Us” campaign by now, and, it’s turning one this year!

It’s a campaign started by the White House addressing how everybody can be a part of preventing sexual assault. More importantly, it’s shedding light on the fact that most survivors know their attackers in some way, because it isn’t something that often happens in a dark alley with a knife at your throat. They’re exposing the warning signs that we so often overlook. They want to prevent the bystander effect.

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image via feminist.org

So how is the campaign celebrating one year of existence?  Well, the University of Illinois is using the anniversary as an incredibly valid reason to start a task force. They’re using it in hopes of starting a trend similar to hashtags and social media trends at other college campuses, where the hidden pains of campus assault are unfortunately prevalent.

But what’s the goal of the task force?  To build on the momentum and get more of the University of Illinois’ campus involved and to increase visibility about the need to discuss violence against women and how to not only recognize the signs but also learn what can be done to prevent it. Already, they have over 3,000 people pledging to commit to the It’s On Us campaign and its ideals. Additionally, it’s gained more signatures than any other college campus in the nation. But that being said, the university has over 40,000 students so there’s still a huge gap to close.

The fact that this campaign has gained so much traction not only on college campuses, but nationwide is nothing short of phenomenal.

It’s creating a discussion around the fact that this is something we all can take part in destroying. And speaking as a survivor, I will admit that I wish this came sooner. But I am relieved beyond belief that my story is finally being heard. It is finally being taken seriously, and while I am ashamed it took us this long to fight back, it is a fight worth having.

Where can It’s On Us go from here? The sharing on social media and on television channels and YouTube is great and everything but is it sustainable?  Given the kind of traffic it’s already seen and the discussions it’s already created, I’m just hoping it’s falling on the right ears. There is something to be done to prevent even one sexual assault, because it really is on us.  

So here’s to the survivors who can finally rest a little bit knowing that something is being done. But, there’s more work we still need to do to make sure this is no longer considered such a vile topic to discuss, especially with our sons instead of just our daughters.  Because that’s the trend It’s On Us is creating. And it’s a beautiful, much needed trend.

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About Dana

DANA_ZILLGITT_writer_bio_(1).jpgDana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander. 

 

Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.

 

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