Young victims of sexual assault had a rare moment in the spotlight this February, when Lady Gaga took the stage at the Academy Awards to sing “Til It Happens to You.” Gaga, a sexual assault survivor herself, co-wrote the song with Diane Warren (another survivor) for The Hunting Ground. The documentary utilizes first-person interviews and expert insight to expose the shocking prevalence of sexual assault cases on college campuses across the States. Dozens of young women and men—all victims—joined the pop diva on stage, circling her white piano with the words “Not your fault” written on their arms.
The film screened last February at Ritz Five, but if you missed it (or want to see it again) local nonprofit Roar for Good will show it for free this week in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Roar for Good co-founder and CEO Yasmine Mustafa says she caught it at the Ritz and knew it would be the perfect event centerpiece for her nonprofit, which makes and sells jewelry (necklaces, charms and key fobs) that doubles as an alarm if the wearer is being attacked. Mustafa says she was inspired to start Roar after a woman was raped a block from her Center City apartment.
“I was instantly struck by [the film’s] powerful portrayal of how prevalent sexual violence is in America’s top college campuses, how far the universities have gone to brush them under the rug, and the devastating toll they have on families,” she says. “We wanted to do our part to help spread the message and raise awareness.”
This is what she wants you to know: According to a late-2015 study conducted by the Association of American Universities, 23 percent of female college students say they experienced “sexual assault and sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation.” Eleven percent of those asked said the assault included penetration or oral sex. Similarly, a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll reveals that a whopping 25 percent of women say they suffered unwanted sexual advances in college. It’s an issue that has garnered attention from the White House on down—Vice President Biden introduced Lady Gaga at the Oscars—but that shows no real signs of abating.
“Sexual assaults on college campuses and around the world are an urgent issue for which much more work needs to be done,” Mustafa says. “We believe getting people to view this film and [partake in] open discussions on this painful topic are a start to decreasing the violence.”
Mustafa is going one step further to educate those who show up Wednesday. She’s invited special guest Sage Carson, one of the survivors who came out on stage during Lady Gaga’s Oscar performance. Carson, a junior at the University of Delaware, is an anti-sexual violence advocate who has led a student speak out against UD’s handling of sexual misconduct cases and works with various organizations to improve the climate and how her state and university handle sexual assault accusations in the future. At this screening, she’ll talk about her work to promote the film and the effect it can have when shown on college campuses.
The event is totally free. It takes place Wednesday, April 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. in Room 222 at Temple University Center City Campus at 1515 Market Street. Free food and beverages will be provided by Duck Donuts, Insomnia Cookies and more. To RSVP, go here.
Photo Header: The Hunting Ground/CNN Films