Students take sexual violence prevention pledge
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Campus News, Health

Students take sexual violence prevention pledge

Published 3/3/16

Charity Muehlenweg
TNE Writer


Many students across the nation are jumping at the opportunity to take a stand against sexual violence, and NSU students are pledging to do the same.

Jennifer Cole-Robinson, violence prevention project coordinator, said she believes this pledge is important in raising awareness of sexual assault violence and will go a long way towards stopping that type of violence from occurring on college campuses around the nation.

“We are doing this campaign to bring this issue to light at NSU and to encourage our students to take responsibility for our campus safety,” said Robinson. “We need to fundamentally shift the way we look at sexual assault and show students across our campus and our nation and realize that it is our responsibility to do something, anything, big or small, to take a stand against sexual violence.”

Robinson said their approach to this problem is to launch the “It’s On Us” campaign on the NSU campus through the entire month of March. Students will be invited to join the Office of Violence Prevention and take the pledge to stand up against sexual violence at NSU.

Sandra Dearborn, Help-In-Crisis, Inc. sexual assault services coordinator, said many times people are unaware what the law actually states about sexual assault.

“Men and women are often guilty of breaking the law, sometimes without even realizing what they did was a crime,” said Dearborn. “Educating our youth and our community is a primary need and counseling is necessary for all involved.”

Statistics show one in four women and one in 37 men have experienced sexual assault in the United States. A female who is sexually assaulted before the age of 18 is likely to have multiple assaults in her lifetime and one in six males can experience sexual assault before the age of 18.

There is a sexual assault that occurs in Oklahoma approximately every five hours, and the crime jumps up to every 90 seconds nationally.

Dearborn said this is an enormous social problem that causes other issues to develop from the assault.

“This crime affects men and women alike,” said Dearborn. “Women experience emotional trauma with a very deeply seeded scar that often alters their own self-worth, self-esteem, mindset and temperament. They are over protective of their own children and there is a great need for spouses and children to be open to discussions about this so they understand the reasons behind that behavior.”

Dearborn said the effects of the crime can be limiting and can cause both men and women to become either withdrawn or more outspoken and assertive than they were prior to the event.

“Many people who have been sexually assaulted develop post traumatic stress disorder or rape trauma syndrome, which affects behavior, emotions, mental attitudes and thinking processes,” said Dearborn. “This alters their lives every day and many people have to be on medication for depression or other issues in order to deal.”

Young men who are sexually assaulted often develop gender identity issues after the trauma.

“Men may view themselves as inadequate or macho, because they have to prove they are a man and have to fight off the people that raped them,” said Dearborn.

HIC currently serves Adair, Sequoyah, Wagoner and Cherokee counties. They offer educational peer counseling to survivors of sexual assault, which can be current or past events. They also train advocates and coordinate other programs to benefit assault victims and those who work with those victims.

 Dearborn said it is important for victims to give themselves time to heal and process through counseling, to become educated on the topics and to accept the process.

“Some people can heal in a matter of six months, some never heal their whole lives,” said Dearborn. “Talking about it is essential, but talking about it to appropriate people makes that healing happen.”

Kyle Kidd, Sapulpa senior, works in the NSU violence prevention office. Kidd said he believes this campaign will have a huge impact on the campus because most people are completely uneducated on the topic of sexual assault and what it can involve.

“While working in violence prevention, I have learned a great deal about sexual assault and how prominent it actually is on our campus,” said Kidd. “Sexual assault has an impact on everyone not just women. Men are victims as well, but sadly, very few victims actually feel comfortable coming forward due to fear of humiliation and public scrutiny. This is a wall that we must break as advocates.”

Kidd said he encourages those who are experiencing sexual assault to understand that they are not alone, and they are not to blame.

“We have excellent resources to assist any victims who seek our help,” said Kidd. “No one deserves to experience sexual assault and it is our duty to step forward as advocates against sexual assault on our campus.” 

The “It’s On Us” campaign begins March 3 in the UC lobby. There will be a video booth and pledge cards set up at noon every Wednesday and Thursday throughout the month of March. The first 90 students to take the pledge on video will receive a free T-shirt.

If students are experiencing sexual violence, Robinson encourages them to seek out advice at the HawkReach violence prevention office or call them at 918-444-2042.

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