VPAS talks stalking
Essence Boyd – Copy Editor
The Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support (V.P.A.S.) Center led a round table discussion in the Engleman Rotunda, last Wednesday. The topic of dialogue was
the appropriation of stalking in the media.
The conversation was about stalking in, not only social media and how stalking is portrayed in television, movies and music. Students were encouraged to learn the signs of stalking, and were challenged to put their new profound knowledge to the test
in an entertaining and educational twist of Jenga.
V.P.A.S has a goal of making Southern a safe and supporting community and providing violence prevention education and advocacy.
V.P.A.S student worker Danae Sawchyn, a senior and English major, was one of the three advocates leading the round table discussion.
“We wanted to bring statistics to light,” said Sawchyn. “People like to make light of things like stalking and sexual assault and we wanted to challenge that.”
Today’s media has made it hard not to become desensitized to stalking and sexual misconduct. It has become the new way to express love.
“The most obvious stalking one [movie] I can think of is Twilight,” said Sawchyn. “When it is in a movie you’re looking at it from the viewpoint of ‘Oh, this isn’t real,’ realizing people experiencing that in real life, is scary and not okay.”
Sophomore, communication disorders major, and V.P.A.S. advocate Ashley Barry said being aware does not have to equal boycotting.
“If your favorite song includes stalking, that doesn’t mean you have to stop listening,” said Barry. “It’s becoming aware that it’s happening and spreading the word.”
However, the appropriation of stalking has made it hard for some of its victims to speak out, V.P.A.S. members said at the discussion. The fear of not being taken seriously is greater than becoming a victim.
“Stalking is not being taken as seriously as it should be. People will say, I think I’m being stalked and while be[ing] told, ‘You’re just paranoid,’” said Barry.
Along with victim advocacy, V.P.A.S also provides counseling services to any student who experienced sexual misconduct, hazing, bullying, harassment or victimization of any other kind.
“V.P.A.S has two trained campus advocates that are there so that you know your options in situations such as stalking,” said Sawchyn. “They [victims] might not think for certain that they want to do something, they might just want to know what they can do and they’re the people to see for that specifically.”
These resources are not limited addressing instances that take place on campus, said Barry. She said that people should not be afraid to reach out.
“When you are victim of any kinds of misconduct you’re likely to feel vulnerable, and you might not want to talk about it,” said Sawchyn, “You might want to think you’re able to just solve it yourself but the problem is outside of you. There are resources, it is okay to talk about it and there are people who want to help.”
Photo Credit: Essence Boyd