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It's on Us: we can all play a role in stopping sexual assault

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If you have noticed this week, Arctic Ice Hockey's logo has changed for It's on Use. Here is why this cause is important, why you should care, and what you can do.

It’s on Us is a campaign created by US President Barack Obama and US Vice-President Joe Biden in an effort to stop sexual assault on college campuses. It is on us, every single one of us, to stop the epidemic of sexual violence. And all of us can help stop sexual assault.

In health classes across Canada, rape is never talked about. It should be. Girls should be empowered to know that if they say no, no one should touch them. Girls should know that unless they say, “yes” before having sex. It’s on us to make this happen.

No longer should the conversation about rape be hidden when educating teenagers about sex. It’s on us to ensure that they understand that they are entitled to no body but their own. It’s on us to, before they enter high school, make sure all students understand that girls are not a prize and boys cannot touch them with asking first. It’s on all of us to teach them that.

It’s important to recognize that not all forms of rape and sexual assault are violent. It can be when somebody is in an emotionally abusive relationship, or a situation where they are dependent on someone for support, only to have that person coerce them to do something they are unwilling to do with threats to withhold that support. If you see anybody that looks like they may be in a situation where they are being threatened or pressured in any way, it’s important to find a way to appropriately intervene. There are many tools for support and if you think a loved one or even an acquaintance may be at risk, it’s on you to step forward and help them.

This is not a small problem. A 2011 study found that 18% of women in the United States have experienced some form of rape in their lifetime. In our society, people make light of drunken hookups and turning a no into a yes via intoxication. It’s important to realize that this is not okay and there are some lines that should never be crossed.

You can make a difference. You can help bring attention to sexual assault and be the driving force behind changing the culture surrounding it. It’s not innocent fun, it’s not always violent. Nobody should ever be forced into anything they aren’t willing to do, and it’s on us to provide them with the support to ensure they never have to.