Center To Host Sexual Assault Awareness Week

April 15, 2010
SHSU Media Contacts: Jennifer Gauntt

The SHSU Counseling Center will help educate those who are most at risk of being sexually assaulted, women in college, with a week of activities slated in recognition of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Activities will kick off on Monday (April 19), when the center and Bearkats for Civic Engagement will provide resources to all students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Mall Area. Both groups will be set up throughout the week at those times to disseminate literature and other resources.

On Tuesday (April 20), Counseling Center counselors Neetha Devdas and Elizabeth Charrier will discuss the myths and stereotypes about women of color and the impact of these stereotypes on sexual assault at 5 p.m. in College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building Room 140.

On Wednesday (April 21), assistant professor of psychology Audrey Miller and doctoral student Amanda Amacker will dispel myths on rape on campus at 5 p.m. in LSC Room 320.

That day, students are also asked to wear denim to support survivors of sexual assaults.

“In February of 1999, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a previous rape conviction of a driving instructor because his student had been wearing tight jeans at the time of the rape,” said Devdas, who is also the Counseling Center’s sexual assault prevention coordinator. “The judges argued that the woman had consensual sex because her jeans were tight and could not be removed without the victims consent.

“The decision was criticized by women in the Italian Parliament and they chose to wear denim to work to show their outrage with the decision,” she said. “Internationally, the case caused outrage as well. Now, denim is used as a symbol on this day around the world to signify the importance of challenging false beliefs about rape and supporting survivors of sexual assaults.”

Finally, on Thursday (April 22), representatives from Student’s Legal Services, the Dean of Students’ Office, University Police Department, the Counseling Center and the Huntsville Memorial Hospital will talk to students about being “here for you” in responding to sexual assault, as well as prevention.

“We’re Here for You: University, Medical, Legal and Counseling Responses to Sexual Assault,” a panel discussion, will be held at 1 p.m. in LSC Room 304.

According to the Department of Justice, college women are typically at a higher risk for being victims of sexual assault than non-college women their age.

“Being away from home for the first time and adjusting to new freedoms, feeling a sense of false safety and security being on a college campus and around college students, alcohol and drug use, and a lack of knowledge about sexual assault greatly impact the risk level for sexual assault among college students,” said Devdas. “Nationally, approximately one in four American women and one in 33 American men have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. However, these statistics are thought to be significantly higher, especially for men when taking into account the fact that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, with 60 percent still being left unreported.

“Approximately, 80 to 90 percent of survivors know their perpetrator,” she said. “On college campuses, the statistics are no different so we are hoping to educate students and help them be more aware of resources, facts, myths, and messages related to sexual assault.”

For more information on any of the events, contact Devdas at 936.294.1720.


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