After incidents such as the Steubenville rape case and Rick Ross’ infamously offensive lyrics in the song “U.E.O.N.O,” sexual assault has been a big topic of discussion.
April is known nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness month, and in recent years, Florida A&M has held events during April to show concern for sexual assault victims.
Last year, the sidewalk in front of Tucker Hall displayed the sixth annual Clothesline Project that consisted of white t-shirts with slogans that spoke against violence. There were many other events such as the Take Back the Night Rally, a screening of the independent film “Breaking the Silence” and the Silent March.
This year, events such as the Men of Strength second annual mini-conference, “These Hands Don’t Hurt,” Sister to Sister Academy, a showing of the movie “The Invisible War,” followed by a panel discussion and a donation drive for Refuge House are being held in honor of sexual assault awareness month.
Tallahassee is not only the capital, but is also a college town that contains Tallahassee Community College, FAMU and Florida State. More than half of the students on these campuses are females between the ages of 17 to 25.
According to The Florida Commission on the Status of Women 2012 fact sheet, one out of six American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
Shannon Richards, a second-year pre-nursing student from Miami, explained sexual assault.
“I think sexual assault is non-consensual sexual intercourse that involves the use of sexual threats, violence, immediate and unlawful bodily injury or threats of future retaliation and duress,” Richards said.
She added that as a woman it is in her best interest to be aware of her surroundings at all times.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2000, one in five women are raped during their college years and 8 percent of college men admitted to committing acts that met the legal definition of rape. Also, sexual assault in college is more frequent due to the use of alcohol.
However, most students do not define these incidents as “rape” because there was no use of a weapon or any signs of physical injury.
Tanya Tatum, director of student health services, addressed the fact that most sexual assault cases are not reported because many victims feel responsible or do not feel people will believe them, but instead question their own judgment.
“There is such a loss of power when you’re victimized like that and you’re first thought is ‘is anyone going to believe me?'” Tatum said. “A lot of times we have this really bad habit of blaming the victim. We victim-blame a lot so I believe that is part of the reason why a lot of people don’t report.”
Quantina Washington, assistant director of clinical programs at Sunshine Manor, listed certain measures women can take to prevent sexual assault. According to Washington, if women plan to consume alcohol, they should do so in moderation. She added that if you are going on a date with someone you do not know very well, you should tell a friend your plans and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Washington said the best way to handle sexual assault is to go to a safe place away from the perpetrator and preserve all evidence. Do not bathe, shower or brush your teeth. Also, it is a good idea to write down all the details you can remember immediately after the attack.
She said that everyone should be clear that it is never too late to say “no.”
“Remember you have the right to say ‘no’ even if you said ‘yes,'” Washington said.