“Are You Ready?” — an annual conversation on preventing sexual assault on campus and better supporting survivors — returned in its 14th iteration Wednesday.
Established in fall 2003, “Are You Ready?” is sponsored by Health Education Services and the Women’s Center in partnership with Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the LGBTQ resource center.
This year, the program, hosted in Copley Formal Lounge, featured a presentation by Marc Grimmet, a psychologist specializing in clinical mental health, and his partner Juliette, the founder of Chrysalis Network, an organization aiming to support the creation of programs to combat sexual assault and domestic and relationship violence.
Grimmet also serves as an associate professor and director of the Community Counseling Education and Research Clinic at North Carolina State University.
Juliette Grimmett spoke about her experience as a sexual assault survivor, while Marc Grimmet shared his perspective as an ally of survivors in their presentation “Working for Culture Change: A Story of Survival, Healing, and Action.”
Juliette Grimmet, who has more than 20 years of experience working with colleges, communities and schools to address campus sexual assault issues, said it is important to openly discuss the issue of sexual assault on college campuses and to educate students on how to take action against this issue.
Even the most open communities may not discuss sexual assault, according to Juliette Grimmet.
“I grew up in this very liberal community where we would talk about all these issues, but we didn’t talk about this,” Juliette Grimmet said.
Juliette Grimmet said the process she had to go through to report her rape was overly complicated and difficult compared to her perpetrator.
“We all just sit at this table for three and a half hours together sharing details about what happened,” Juliette Grimmet said. “My incident report was single-spaced, three and a half pages and extremely detailed. His was half a page basically double -spaced.”
According to Juliette Grimmet, although her university found her attacker responsible for the assault and for breaking the honor code, he was not expelled or suspended.
“His sanction is one year of social probation, which means still play on the lacrosse team, you can still live on campus, you can walk by Juliette on this really small campus,” Juliette Grimmet said. “He went on to work for George W. Bush at the White House.”
Juliette Grimmet said this injustice motivated her to warn the rest of the campus community of the danger of sexual assault and to write letters to campus newspapers emphasizing the prevalence of the issue.
“Knowing that I had to stay at this school with this person who harmed me and knowing that they knew that and that they were OK with that and subjecting the community to potential violence, which I knew certainly was going to occur,” Juliette Grimmet said. “It really wasn’t until this happened that I truly, truly found my voice.”
Inspired to help others facing similar experiences, Juliette Grimmet became a peer educator and pursued positive change through educating others and setting up programs to advocate for survivors.
Marc Grimmet said friends and allies of survivors can be especially important in supporting survivors.
“Sometimes, our friends and families tell us things that are happening to them, but we have to be really thoughtful about how we respond because if we respond in an inappropriate way it can really be more harmful than good,” Marc Grimmet said.
Marc Grimmet said hearing survivors’ stories is essential to raising awareness and creating a community that is receptive to change.
“I don’t think we can really appreciate it and know that we all have a role in doing something about it until we’re able to hear these stories and know they have been all too often and too common,” Marc Grimmet said.
Maddy Moore (SFS ’17), who is the chair of the Georgetown University Student Association safety and sexual assault policy team, said the purpose of the program is to develop a more supportive campus for survivors of sexual assault.
“The goal of ‘Are You Ready?’ is to create a university community that is supportive of survivors and that does not tolerate sexual assault,” Moore said.
Carla Goodwin (COL ’18), who attended the discussion, said events such as “Are You Ready” are critical to furthering the overall narrative around campus assault.
“I think it’s necessary since the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses is very wide and it is not really talked about,” Goodwin said. “I think events like this are just really important.”
Laura Chant (NHS ’18), who also attended the event, said the conversation fostered by “Are You Ready” should continue beyond the night.
“Even though freshmen receive peer education on sexual assault during [New Student Orientation], it is vital that a larger conversation is had,” Chant said. “Recurring education is important to combat rape culture, so I really think events like ‘Are You Ready’ should be mandatory for all students; this conversation should no longer be ignored just because it makes some people uncomfortable.”
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