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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Violence Prevention Project Assistant Reflects on Go Big Read

Go Big Read seeks responses to this year’s book from students, faculty, and staff. If you have something to share, contact gobigread@library.wisc.edu to learn more about guidelines and process. Thanks to Olivia Moore for responding from her perspective as Violence Prevention Project Assistant. 


*Trigger warning.*
In Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time
Being,” many heartbreaking issues in young Naoko’s life are explored.  Nao, a 16 year-old schoolgirl living in
Tokyo, documents her life in a diary. 
After Japan’s
devastating earthquake and tsunami, a Japanese-American
novelist named Ruth, finds a barnacle-encrusted freezer bag washed up on a
beach off the coast of British Columbia. 
Ruth opens the freezer bag to find Nao’s life inscribed in an old book,
along with a watch and some letters. We are taken into Nao’s world as Ruth
relives her life through the washed up diary.
In a few life-changing moments described in the diary, Nao
experienced a sexual assault perpetrated by some of her classmates.  These classmates videotaped the assault
and stole her underwear.  They then
posted both online, seeing what the highest bid for her underwear would
be.  Before Nao even had a chance
to begin healing from her traumatizing sexual assault, she was forced to relive
it over and over again in a public forum.
This
story in the book displays something that is far too common in our society:
re-victimization. This term refers to the experience of a survivor being
victimized or traumatized after the original trauma.
            
Not
all survivors of sexual assault experience re-victimization by watching how
much their underwear is being auctioned off for, or by seeing how many views
their sexual assault has gotten online. 
However, almost all survivors do have to endure countless rape jokes,
triggering images or scenes on TV and in movies, and degrading song lyrics on a
daily basis.  Re-victimization can
be experienced through the criminal justice system, friends, family, and social
media. 
With
the statistic currently at 1 in 4 women being sexually assaulted before they
graduate college, many of us feel helpless and overwhelmed.  What can you, merely 1 in 42,820
students at UW-Madison, do to help end the epidemic of sexual assault?  The answer may sound simpler than you
think: be a good person.  Most of
us are not the perpetrators initially victimizing someone, but we can all do
our part in ensuring survivors are not re-victimized.
Be
conscious of what you say, post online, or laugh at. It matters. With
statistics showing that sexual assault and dating violence affect countless
women in our society, a survivor or a loved one of a survivor will most likely
be negatively affected by what you post or say. If what you are about to say
could be emotionally traumatizing to a survivor, either do not say it or include
a trigger warning before you do. 
Soon, this will come as second nature.  When other people see you not laughing at a harmful rape
joke, or including a trigger warning before you post an article to Facebook,
that makes a statement about what is and is not acceptable today.
It is also extremely helpful to know the
resources that the campus and community provides.  If someone discloses to you, you will be prepared to help
them find the resources that are best for them.
If you do encounter someone saying something
hurtful, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion to them.  A famous quote from Martin Luther King
Jr. states, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the
silence of our friends.”  Will the
confrontation be awkward at first? Maybe. 
Will it be worth it? Definitely.
Help is available.  Click here  for a list of campus and community
resources.  
Olivia Moore
Violence Prevention
Project Assistant
EVOC: End Violence on
Campus
University Health Services

Olivia is a junior at
UW-Madison majoring in psychology, and getting certificates in entrepreneurship
and criminal justice.  She has
worked as the Violence Prevention Project Assistant at EVOC since her freshman
year.

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