Continue the conversation about sexual assault on campus

By Tahlia Terhune, Guest Columnist

Lieutenant Colonel Celia FlorCruz gave a compelling speech Feb. 17 about sexual harassment in both college and military environments, and stressed the importance of education and conversations surrounding this issue.

Having served 37 years in the military, FlorCruz is a well-versed woman in many aspects of life. Her understanding of sexual harassment is one to be shared.

If there is one thing listeners took away, it’s to be there for friends or family that have experienced any form of sexual harassment.

Often times, victims feel ashamed and do not want to discuss what happened to them, let alone even report it. Procedures such as rape kits are a thorough and extensive process that someone who is grieving might have a difficult time going through. It is critical to have a system of support.

According to FlorCruz, the most vulnerable people are those ages 18-24 who are away from home for the first time. They may also be more vulnerable if they have previously been a victim of sexual assault or heavily use alcohol or drugs.

Victims need adequate counseling. This does not have to be professional either. A personal relationship such as a healthy friendship might just be enough to help make circumstances easier.

“The best thing you can do for a victim is listen” FlorCruz said.

I’ve heard peers claim that the victim is just crying wolf or he or she was “asking for it.” According to FlorCruz, only 2-5 percent of rape reports are false. Knowing that information, it is ignorant and inconsiderate to ever assume that a victim is not entitled to support and help.

We have an obligation to consider the fundamental human rights of those around us.

What did FlorCruz suggest we do? She recommended we change the way we brag about sex. The dialogue society has created around sex is degrading and needs to be stopped. It’s as simple as walking away from a conversation and not listening to those around you.
In addition, prevention starts with awareness. Often times, predators are experts in rationalizing behavior. Roughly 3-5 percent of men commit more than 95 percent of rapes. Substances such as alcohol are a primary weapon and predators may have hyper masculine behaviors. It is not uncommon for them to lack empathy.

“I think it’s necessary to open communication,” said junior Erin McCoy. “It’s always a sensitive subject and we need to get a conversation going.”

Creating an open dialogue is exactly what we need. We can’t avoid words such as ‘sexual assault’ because they make us feel uncomfortable. It’s critical that we embrace open discussions and lend help when we can.

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