Here at Grand Canyon University, the student government puts on a campaign every year to bring awareness to a topic along with raising money to help the cause. This year it was the “It’s on Us” campaign, partnering with Streetlight USA. This campaign brought awareness to the problem of sex trafficking in the United States along with its partner, sexual assault. By partnering with Streetlight USA, an organization that helps girls who have experienced or been at risk of sex trafficking, GCU was trying to raise $10,000 in one week to supply Streetlight with the help they need.
Sexual assault is unfortunately more common than one would think, with someone being sexually assaulted every 98 seconds it happens often. Sexual assault is any sexual contact or act done against someone else’s will. Sexual assault is most common in teenagers and college students, so it was an extremely important topic to highlight at GCU. Every 1 in 5 people will experience sexual assault in college and 25% of the time it happens in a public place; therefore, one should know the signs of the assault to report it. Signs that sexual assault may be taking place include withdraw from friendships and activities, controlling relationships, past sexual assault, restrictions of contraceptives from partner, sexual pressure from partner, control of communication from partner, and visible abuse. Signs that sexual assault has taken place are depression, self-harm, suicidal behavior, sexually transmitted infections, anxiety, avoidance of places or situations, failing grades, withdraw from life activities, and an increase in drugs or alcohol. Knowing these signs, it is vital to keep an eye on your friends and yourself to ensure that sexual safety and health are in your control.
One form of sexual assault is sex trafficking which is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. It is a common misconception that human trafficking only happens in third world countries but needs to be known that it is rising in America, specifically here in the valley of Phoenix, Arizona. Runaway children are at the highest risk for sex trafficking with every 1 in 6 being victims. Along with this, only 2% of the victims are ever identified as they are brought in by pimps in the form of boyfriends, parents,or kidnapers, gang related prostitution, and runaways being forced to exchange sex for survival. As sex trafficking is growing, it is important to know the signs of sex trafficking targets. These targets can come in the form of pimp shops online, in malls, bus stops, schools, religious cults, and foster homes. These targets trick their victims by forming a fake bond by buying gifts, providing shelter, affection, etc. The targets also traumatize their victims by psychological manipulation, physical violence, and rape. These tricks and traumatizing cause the victims to lose trust in people and feel powerless, making their healing process very difficult.
Streetlight USA helps these girls in their healing process by providing a safe home, education, support groups, and a community for these girls who have been victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking. They supply the girls with crisis plans, hotlines, physical and emotional treatment, therapeutic activities, prayer/bible study, mentoring, on-site schooling, tutoring, and career planning. These fundamental factors provide the girls with hope for a bright future after their traumatic experiences. However, the program is run on donations and volunteers, so there is a need for help from the community to encourage these girls that their life has a bigger purpose.
This community can help by supplying donations and volunteering; that is where Grand Canyon University came in. With the incentive of free GCBC, students were encouraged to donate to the It’s on Us campaign through Venmo and Cash App in order to raise the goal of $10,000 for Streetlight USA. Regardless of the amount raise, GCU matched the number the students raised, doubling the donation size. $13,000 was the monumental donation to Streetlight from GCU, providing them with more staff, better home/classrooms, supplies, etc. This was an amazing outcome to advance Streetlight’s purpose and promote the safety of college campuses. GCU’s Local Outreach Club gives another form of help; students get chance to volunteer at the Streetlight location in Phoenix, Arizona. This year, the volunteers go once a week to help the girls with their school work, the teacher with classroom tasks, and to provide support in general to the people there. Grand Canyon University put an emphasis on the importance of ending sexual assault, sex trafficking, and to get the help you need when you need it. If you are wanting to support the cause donate directly at streetlightusa.org. If you are someone you know is in need of non-emergency help due to sexual assault or sex trafficking you can call 480.525.7548.