SIMONE VIRZI — News Writer
Growing up, students learn about practicing safe sex, but sexual assault and rape are not often discussed until college, and by then, it may be too late, according to Brianne Kane, president of Helping Others Peer Educators (H.O.P.E).
“One in five women are sexually assaulted as an undergrad,” Kane said.
Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Women’s Center and H.O.P.E. have been hosting several events on campus to address the issue, including the event Victim?, held last Wednesday, April 18.
Five short videos about sexual assault were viewed during the event. After each video, H.O.P.E. board members and the audience discussed it, pointing out statistics, phrases, and scenarios used that stood out, and whether they were accurate or offensive.
In the first video shown, a Public Service Announcement from the U.K., included the statistic “every 78 minutes, a woman is raped.”
During the second video, high school students played out a sexual assault scenario while drinking at a house party. During the discussion, Kane said the victim’s comments were not realistic; she was very aggressive and threatened to call police on the male, who was only wearing a pair of boxers.
Kane said she has never heard a testimony in which a person said they threatened to call police. Victims tend to go into “fight, flight or freeze” mode — freeze mode being when the person is in such shock they do not react, nor do they defend themselves.
According to Ebony McClease, graduate intern at the Women’s Center, “sexual assault is different from rape,” however, today people use the two terms interchangeably.
She said rape involves penetration while sexual assault includes unwanted interaction, like grabbing someone’s buttocks.
“It takes more brainpower to have sex than drive a car,” McClease said, adding sex does not just happen.
“Shit Everybody Says to Rape Victims” was shown, which has two parts. The videos include a variety of females saying stereotypic comments made by friends or family to someone who said they were raped.
“You can’t rape the willing,” “You had sex with him before,” “What were you wearing?” and “A girl can’t rape a guy” are just a few examples used in the two clips.
Another comment, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” was also used in the video. The phrase was chanted in New Haven in October 2010, according to CNN’s website.
Potential pledges of Delta Kappa Epsilon’s Phi chapter at Yale College were chanting the phrase outside freshmen dorm buildings. Kane said after the incident, the fraternity is not currently recognized at Yale.
The video also used the phrase, “No means yes.” Ketevan Marr, secretary of H.O.P.E., said the phrase was common during the 1950s when society was more conservative.
“A girl could never say ‘yes,’” she said, because it “meant she was a slut.”
Instead, they would say “no,” which actually meant “yes.” Marr pointed out that this concept was used more than 50 years ago, and society has changed; today, no means no.
The final video was of rape victims talking about their experience after the incident; there was also a man whose daughter was raped. The girls said they went to close friends and family, but felt alone. The father said he shut down and did not assist his daughter.
After a rape occurs, the victim is likely to go to their family or a close friend first, Kane said. However, they may not believe the victim, or they may make them feel as if it was their own fault.
“A lot of people think it happens to other people,” she said, “the fact of the matter is it happens to us.”
Because a rape is often a traumatic experience, rape victims are four times more likely to contemplate suicide, according to Kane, which is why it is important to get help.
She said all staff at the Women’s Center and H.O.P.E. has been trained to help any student who goes to their office.
“Once you start talking and realizing what it is, it’s terrifying,” she said, adding that although it may be scary, it is better to talk and get help.
Senior Matt Sherman attended the event because a friend had suggested she should. Since it is a common issue, she said more people should be aware of sexual assault.
“I actually think something like this should get more people to come,” she said.