Kerry Washington & Co. Star In New White House Sexual Assault PSA

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According to new research by The White House released in January 2014, 1 in 5 female college students will be a victim of rape. While men are also at risk, the majority of victims are women under the age of 18. It was this research that prompted the White House to create a task force to protect college students from sexual assault, as it has become a major issue the more stories are coming to light.

The ‘Not Alone’ campaign was launched in May 2014, with a PSA starring British actor Daniel Craig. It wasn’t just a one-time publicity stunt, this is an issue that is being taken very seriously from the highest level of government here in the United States. Now they have released another PSA starring a whole slew of celebrities using the slogan ‘It’s On Us’ saying we can all take responsibility in preventing and protecting people from sexual crimes.

In late August, the California Senate passed a bill which would see the explicit outlining of what sexual consent is. What this means is that there will potentially be no room for error or loopholes when a sexual assault or rape case is being reported and taken to court.

In a blog post on the White House website about the new ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, Director of the National Economic Council Jeff Zients says only 12% of sexual assault incidents happening on US colleges are reported. That’s a sad and depressing fact, folks. That victims are more inclined to stay silent in fear of having their experience called into question is a damning view on the current state of justice in this country.

President Obama said in a statement that the quiet tolerance of sexual assault is an affront to to our basic humanity.

“When [students] finally make it onto campus, only to be assaulted, that’s not just a nightmare for them and their families, it insults our most basic values as individuals, and families, and as a nation.”

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Vice President Joe Biden was very frank with his issue for everyone to “step up”.

“Be responsible. Intervene. You have an obligation to make a pariah of those on campus who abuse another person.”

If only we all thought the same way about this issue. In 2013 President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act which sees harsher penalties for sex offenders and perpetrators of sexually charged crimes and domestic violence. September also marks the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act which was implemented into law in 1994.

The new PSA video stars Jon Hamm, Questlove, Rose Byrne, President Obama, Mayim Bialik, Randy Jackson and more, who are urging viewers to not blame victims, to look out for each other, to stand up, to not look the other way, to take responsibility and stop sexual assault. They are short, succinct, and powerful statements from some of the most well-known figures in pop culture and politics. Vice President Joe Biden also features in the video (below) and he is a major part in creating the 1994 Violence Against Women Act when he was a Delaware Senator.

‘Scandal’ actress Kerry Washington’s involvement comes hot on the heels of another initiative she is lending her voice and face to. She is an ambassador for the All State Foundation’s Purple Purse initiative which tackles issues of domestic abuse. She designed a purse to sell, the proceeds of which will go domestic violence organizations nationwide. The issue she is specifically focusing on in that campaign is how abusers use finances as a way to control their victims so they have no money of their own if they want to flee. They may sabotage their victims’ ability to work, or pile up debt under their victims’ names. Experts cite financial abuse as one of the top reasons why many victims are unable to escape abusive relationships.

“I think people just aren’t as aware of financial abuse,” Washington told The Huffington Post. “If a woman isn’t even aware of the dynamics of financial abuse — what it looks like, what it is — she may not even know that that’s part of the tools being used to control her and manipulate her and keep her trapped. When there is more information around it, people can begin to identify it and then get the help they need.”

We love that she is using her voice to speak up about important issue that all too often get swept under the carpet, just like sexual assault and rape.

If you want to know more about the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, you can check out the website, and also take the pledge, where you publicly state (by sharing on social media):

To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.

To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur.

To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.

To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

How will you raise your voice today? You don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference. If we all pledge to do at least one thing to change the lives of those in need around us, imagine the impact we will have. This is a call to our generation to take the lead. We have no more excuses, only resources.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Ground-Breaking New Law Against Campus Sexual Assault Introduced By NY Gov Andrew Cuomo

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