Calling it an “epidemic” that desperately needs to be addressed; a group of women’s safety advocates launched a new effort to fight sexual assaults on college campuses in the Tri-State. That group outlined its plans Tuesday, Sept. 15. This issue covered all college campuses. According to those involved in the newly created task force, one in five college women in the US and one in 16 college men were the target of some sort of sexual assault while in school. And victims said the impact was devastating. It took Susan Bruggeman a long time to be able to say, I am a sexual assault survivor,” in public. And just as long to say it to herself in private. Bruggeman said she was raped twice; once in high school and once in college. But it was not what she thought rape was, “My understanding of rape at that age was that it was a stranger in an alleyway. I had never heard of date rape.” But date rape and other forms of sexual assault or harassment on campus were far more common, Bruggeman said, than most people think. “I think we tend to blame ourselves. People blame us. You hear things like, ‘What were you doing there?’ Or ‘What were you wearing?’ Or ‘Why were you wearing that?’” Tuesday, Sept. 15, Bruggeman joined two dozen other representatives of social service agencies, universities and city hall, to announce formation of the Cincinnati task force to reduce gender-based violence. Xavier Title IX Director, Kate Lawson, said, “The greatest tool that those who commit gender-based violence is the silence of the community around them and around the victim.” Susan Bruggeman is silent no longer. She volunteers at women helping women, running a support group for victims of sexual assault. Bruggeman’s goal is to see that other victims do not lose 30 years of their lives like she did trying to figure out how to cope. Besides date rape, the task force plans to look at issues such as stalking and sexual harassment in addition to physical violence. Cincinnati councilman PG Sittenfeld, who formed the task force, said the group plans a public education campaign, along with setting up a website where victims can find resources in order to get help.