SHARE
Vice President Joseph R. Biden addressing CU students April 8. His “No. 1 suggestion” was that more men get involved in combating sexual assault. (photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

‘It’s On Us’ campaign aims to end culture of sexual violence

A young woman resists her landlord’s advances and gets her face slashed, and the first thing her friends ask is, “How short was your skirt?” A girl goes to a bar without underwear and is brutally raped: “Case dismissed.” All too often, whatever their gender, survivors wonder, “Does anybody believe me?”

To learn more or record your pledge online, visit www.itsonus.org.

In an emotional and often blistering talk in April, Vice President Joe Biden rallied CU students to the Obama administration’s “It’s On Us” campaign to end the culture of sexual violence. (A recent survey of CU students found that 28 percent of the women reported being sexually assaulted in some way during their time on campus.) Along the way, he traced the history of violence against women, reaching back to the 14th century when the phrase “rule of thumb,” in English common law, decreed how thick a rod a man could use to beat his wife. Domestic violence is still widely considered a “family matter” that should remain private. Even today, he said, a high proportion of kids living on the street, and many women treated in emergency rooms, are there “because of a man” who hurt them.

Biden praised his own father for teaching him that the “greatest sin” is the abuse of any kind of power over a weaker person, and that “the cardinal sin of all is to raise your hand against a woman or a child.” With many in the audience in tears or close to it, he led the “It’s On Us” pledge to become more aware of sexual assault, intervene when a victim can’t help her- or himself, and “create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”

—Mary Jarrett