Framing It Happens Here

By Guest Contributor

As the student organizers of It Happens Here (IHH), we wanted to take time to further the conversation around triggering and advertising. It Happens Here is a student-run sexual violence awareness group. We invite Middlebury students to anonymously share stories that detail personal experiences with sexual violence. These stories are read during annual events because we believe that no voice is better able to foster prevention and education than that of a survivor. 

There are many, many ways for survivors to process their trauma, and no one path is more “right” or “wrong.”  Yet for some survivors on this campus, IHH continues to be a powerful resource, helping them regain their sense of autonomy and agency in the wake of tragedy.

It has always been our intention to create safe spaces for survivors. Many people involved in IHH have experienced PTSD and triggering in the wake of their own assaults, and these criticisms weigh heavily in our minds. Over the past few months, IHH has hosted conversations with the campus community in order to address these concerns. We look forward to continuing those conversations. We invite you to join us at Chellis House Monday, Jan. 19 at 9 p.m. for another such conversation. We welcome all input. 

It Happens Here wants to sustain dialogue about how best to make the problems associated with sexual violence as present for the broader Middlebury community as it is for people who have lived these experiences. 

One thing is clear: there must be spaces for survivors to share their stories if/when they’re ready. There are reminders of sexual violence all around us — look no further than to MiddSAFE’s bumper stickers and the posters on every bathroom door. We worry that at issue is not our form of advertising, but our organization’s activist bent.

To be certain, activism may very well be a form of self-care and healing for some survivors. At IHH, we continue to (re)assess how to incite meaningful change on this campus. If we are to continue to hold these events, we will continue to need to advertise. In our minds, relegating survivors’ experiences to the margins of this campus has never been and will never be an option. IHH has never been about performance; we’re in the business of providing survivors with a platform. We continue to believe in the power of stories. We raise consciousness that It Happens Here in the hope that one day, It won’t.

MICHELLE PENG ’15 

MADDIE ORCUTT ’16

KATIE PRESTON ’17

JINGYI WU ’17 

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