Victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse should feel supported by their community in healing and preventing future assaults. Through being knowledgeable and aware of prevention strategies, everyone at URI must take ownership in this initiative. It is our responsibility to create a safe environment for all community members.

“In college, it’s happening at epidemic rates, one out of every five females, and it tends to be within the first six months of college,” said Keith Labelle, assistant director of Bystander Intervention Training.

Holding training and prevention workshops on campus, Labelle and his team are educating people on what to do when faced with an abusive situation. Through teaching strategies and increasing awareness, students and faculty at URI may feel empowered to intervene and prevent.

“The way to approach prevention is to get students involved,” said Labelle. “It’s on us.”

One prevention strategy is through hosting events and discussions around campus. With the goal of increasing awareness, the clothesline project took root. This opportunity allowed survivors of abuse and prevention supporters to express themselves. Participants decorated t-shirts with quotes sharing their wisdom. One shirt in particular advocated, “The more we talk about it, the closer we are to stopping it.”

The clothesline project served to supplement this week’s “It’s On Us, Spring Week of Action.” Through written communication, survivors were given the chance to speak out, addressing critical topics and inherently raising awareness. Here the take home message proclaimed their voices will be heard. In addition to these projects, i-Stand works to educate the community through sharing prevention strategies.

Another important teaching point is that victims should never be blamed. Rather, they should be supported by their peers who may not understand what a day in their shoes is like. It requires courage to step forward and confide in someone.

“It’s something hard to talk about, we want to make it comfortable and eliminate stigmas,” said Kylie Shivery, i-Stander.

Students seeking additional resources may contact the Women’s Center, the Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services, URI Health Services, Multicultural Student Center and the Bystander Intervention Program. Overall, there are resources available and a multitude of people, who genuinely care, here to support students.

Through a multi-tiered approach, i-Stand serves to raise awareness and support for all women.

“Nobody should feel alone. Something special about our program is you can talk to us,” said Danna Stachnik, i-Stander.

Through creating a comfortable environment i-Stand serves to protect confidentiality, connect students to resources and facilitate awareness.

“It’s on us to create an environment where women feel safe,” said Labelle. Together, we may advocate for gender equality. Students interested may enroll in CSV 302 and receive bystander intervention training certification.

Women have been objectified and disrespected throughout history, it’s about time people stand up for what’s right.

“It just takes one person to stand up and speak out…once one person does that’s all it takes,” said Labelle. Don’t wait on someone else to intervene, stand up, speak out and represent the change you wish to see in our world.

Students who wish to show their support may take the pledge at www.itsonus.org. The purpose of this pledge is to: 1) recognize non-consensual sex is classified as assault, 2) identify and intervene, 3) to create an environment in which assault is prevented and survivors are supported.  Lastly, any student may show their awareness through wearing purple, the color for domestic violence, becoming a bystander and protecting those in their community.

This role as an i-STANDer allows me to serve as a resource and advocate for students, while simultaneously raising awareness for and educating students on sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Katie Puiia, senior, i-Stand. “I am a voice for those who do not have one; I stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.”