In one scene from “It Starts Now,” Robin Klein plays a student who goes to a college party with a group of friends. She drinks too much. She’s stumbling and leaning on a guy, an acquaintance. Her friends decide she needs help walking home.
“He’s such a nice guy,” says one woman, and she watches her friend leave.
In the next scene, titled “Survivor,” Klein is alone on stage, her body slouched, one hand hiding her face and her tears.
“We had sex, and I didn’t want to,” she says. “I shouldn’t have let him walk me home.”
“It’s not your fault,” says Christina Audino, a senior, who plays the young woman’s friend.
Klein and Audino are part of Every 1, an organization of sexual violence awareness peer educators at Oregon State University.
The group takes its name for the statement “Every one person sexually assaulted is one too many,” said Carrie Giese, 33, sexual violence prevention and education coordinator at the Student Health Center.
“We’re taught to fear the man jumping out of the bushes,” Giese said. “Instead of the ‘nice guy’ bringing you drinks at a party. Stranger danger is very rare.”
One in four college women is a victim of rape or attempted rape. The risk of being raped is four times greater for women ages 16 through 24 than for any other age group. Nationally, 84 percent of survivors know their attackers, Giese said. In a small town such as Corvallis, the percentage could be more than 90 percent.
As a residence director at Central Michigan University, Giese knew several young men and women who were sexually assaulted. She decided on a career focused on preventing sexual violence. She studied with Stephen Thompson, a nationally recognized expert in the study of sexual aggression at CMU.
“We really focus on bystander awareness, teaching people they have the power to stop sexual assault from happening,” Giese said.
It’s a three-part process. Notice problematic behavior. Interpret the behavior as a problem. Make a safe choice to intervene, Giese explained.
“It Starts Now” is a series of vignettes, aimed at educating people about sexual violence and offering resources for help in the aftermath of an assault.
Every 1’s peer educators write the scripts and perform them. Students take an OSU class, H199, where they receive training in sexual violence prevention education before they participate in Every 1.
The organization partners with other university organizations, including the Oregon State Police University Area Command office, University Housing and Dining Services, the Army and Navy ROTC, Panhellenic and the Interfraternity Council and the Athletic Department.
The Women’s Giving Circle offers “absolutely phenomenal” financial support, Giese said.
“It Starts Now” addresses subjects such as familiar assault, consent, harassment, stalking and bystander awareness.
Ben Waldo, a senior, is one of two men in Every 1 and has participated for three years.
“I try to be a role model for men,” Waldo said. “It’s OK to be involved. Men need to step up and help.”