It Happens Here and our new website

By Emily Whiteside

The idea behind the name It Happens Here is that sexual violence happens around us every day. This can range from physical sexual harassment (like being groped on the bus or in a club) to rape, and all of its forms can have a deeply negative effect on the well-being and mental health of the victim.
However, this also means that change can Happen Here – at our universities, on our campuses, in our unions, amongst the students. We are a campaign run by and for students that aims to fight sexual violence through education and raising awareness; demanding university-wide policy change; supporting survivors and more.

The new and improved It Happens Here website is part of both raising awareness of sexual violence and supporting survivors. It has resources that can act as a signpost for those who have experienced sexual violence or those looking to educate themselves better on the topic.

However, perhaps the website’s most important role can be as a platform for survivors of sexual violence to share their experiences. Often, those who experience sexual assault are doubted, discredited or disbelieved by those around them, despite an incredibly low level of false rape allegations in the UK (around 3%). This fear of not being believed is a contributing factor to just 15% of women reporting their rape to the police, according to 2013 research by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.

We believe it is important to provide survivors with the opportunity to tell their stories in a safe place where they will be believed and never questioned. This can be cathartic and empowering for someone who has felt silenced by their attacker, peers, college, university or police department: it can help them to reclaim an experience that may have made them feel helpless at the time and recount it on their own terms.
It is also important to make sure survivors’ voices are heard because their stories can help dispel stereotypes and myths about rape, raise awareness of the issue and add a perspective to the debate that is too often not heard. It also proves that sexual violence is not something that happens to other people in faraway places – it is happening here, now, and it is everyone’s issue.

This site will be a place for survivors to share their stories, and will also feature regular articles on issues surrounding sexual violence, from tackling myths around it to the progress we are making in our campaign. In the meantime, you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter (@DU_HappensHere) to keep up with our everyday activities.

Send us an email to ithappensheredurham@gmail.com:
– If you have a story/experience of sexual assault that you would like to share on the website. All submissions are posted anonymously and we never keep a record of your details.
– If you’d like to write an article for our website about anything related to sexual violence. You could explore university or legal policies; myths about sexual violence; victim-blaming; relevant current events or anything else you can think of. All suggestions are welcome!
– If you would like to find out more or get involved with the campaign!

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