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Imagine a world where all students believe and support survivors of gender-based violence. In that world, these survivors feel they can share their experiences without judgment or guilt, and their peers (and accountability systems) treat them with compassion. In this world, all students are able to thrive and heal.

Victim blaming

is a practice. It comes from the cultural norm of

Delegitimizing the prevalence and effects of gender-based violence


Belief in rape myths

Rape myths tell us that people lie about being sexual assaulted.

When people believe in rape myths, they don’t believe survivors.

When people don’t believe survivors, survivors don’t get any support.

When survivors see that they won’t get support, they don’t report their experience.


If survivors don’t report, there’s no way to hold perpetrators responsible.

And if perpetrators can’t be held responsible, violence is normalized.

The results?

Survivors are silenced and don’t seek resources.

Gender-based violence continues on and around campus.

So what can I do?

You can disrupt this practice if you start with the people who drive it. Here’s one example:

The Consent Party, a student group at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, reached out to Breakthrough. The students at SIU felt the university was not supporting survivors of sexual assault. In fact, it seems to be actively trying to hide any cases that came forward! During some over-the-phone coaching, we helped them create a list of demands and plan a protest during their university’s Board of Trustees meeting in December 2015. The students disrupted the meeting, delivered their demands, and made local and statewide news. The day after the meeting and protest, the SIU Board of Trustees vowed to take action and “examine the university’s investigative and support policies surrounding sexual violence.”

You can make a difference too! Sign up for one-on-one coaching with Breakthrough.

Ready to explore other norms? Click here.