By J1 Reporter Allison Ostapowicz
Although not on college campuses yet, Marian’s juniors and seniors received a dose of reality on March 29. Seniors Janna Whited and Lauren Novacek set up a presentation to help raise awareness of campus sexual assault. Whited and Novacek did not sugarcoat any of the content and gave students the cold, hard facts.
Sexual assault is any contact or behavior that occurs without consent from the recipient. Whited explained that one in four women is sexually assaulted in college. One-half of these incidents happen in September and October. This time frame is considered the “Red Zone”, when the typical student is new to the area and has not established their true friends or determined who they can trust.
After Whited and Novacek introduced the topic, they welcomed Bobbi Larsen, an education consultant for Holmes Murphy Fraternal Practice. She spoke about campus sexual assault prevention and shared statistics and facts. Larsen said, “In most statistics, the man is violating the woman, and often times, they aren’t strangers.” She explained that alcohol plays a major role in campus sexual assault.
Statistics show that it is involved 90 percent of the time. If someone has consumed too much alcohol, Larsen advised seeking medical help. “If you see someone who is breathing in a strange manner, or has cold, clammy blue skin, get medical help. It’s better facing the consequences of getting in trouble than the consequence of someone’s life ending.” Larsen went on to say, “Men and women have different blood alcohol levels. A few drinks to a man is not going to have the same impact on a woman. The woman will become intoxicated more quickly from consuming the same amount as the man did.”
Larsen also mentioned ways a bystander can help. If you see someone in an uncomfortable situation, talk to the person you think might be in danger. A simple “Hey, are you okay?” could save them. If you see a man isolating a woman from her friends and she looks uncomfortable, look into the situation; ask her where her friends are. Another way a bystander can help is through intervention. Causing a distraction is a way to be proactive.
There are three things to remember: stand, speak and act. If someone is willing to stand up, others will support them. Larsen gave a list of ways to stand up. One option is the silent stare. If a predator sees you staring at him while he’s trying to assault a woman, it is possible he could become uncomfortable knowing that there is a witness. The second option is to walk up to the guy and say, “Would you treat your mom or sister that way?” Remind him of the seriousness of the crime he is attempting to commit.
Senior Emma Herold said, “The information on how to be a bystander was new and helpful. Even though I was already educated on campus sexual assault, I learned more ways on how being a bystander can help prevent the assault.” Larsen educated the juniors and seniors on ways to support a survivor of sexual assault.
The most important thing to do is listen and believe the survivor. A traumatic experience can be difficult for a person to talk about. When someone listens to them, it provides them with support and reassurance. Remind the victim that there are resources available to help them overcome the experience. Make sure to never blame the victim for her choices. Never say “You shouldn’t have drank,” or “You shouldn’t have worn that outfit.” Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Whited and Novacek hope that their presentation armed Marian girls with the knowledge to help prevent cases of sexual assault, and to have an understanding on how real and dangerous these incidents are.