One of the most underreported crimes in the U.S. is the topic of discussion this month at Troy University. April is sexual assault awareness month, and the Student Counseling
Center is organizing an array of activities to help raise awareness on the subject.
“The statistics are roughly one in four, one in five college students will be sexually assaulted during their college years,” said Jenny Duncan, assistant coordinator of the Student Counseling Center. “That is a huge number. And we are naive to think that it doesn’t happen here.”
“We know for a fact it does because that’s the nature of what our office does. We provide counseling and support and advocacy to victims.”
Duncan said their objective is to make students aware that anyone can be a victim of this crime and no one is immune to it. She said that because many cases go unreported, people don’t hear about it and think it is unlikely to befall them.
The counseling center aims to make people realize the contrary and inform them of the steps that can be taken to prevent it and the resources available for help if it happens to them or anyone else they know.
Representatives of the Student Counseling Center held an event last week on the main quad where they handed out promotional and educational materials to students. On Tuesday, they hosted the “These Hands Don’t Hurt” event.
“So we just ask students to come out and put their hand(prints) on the banner to show their support for the survivors of sexual violence and also to take a stand against it,” said Kimbrlei McCain, a clinical mental health graduate student from Chelsea.
“Every year we are out here doing this, and every year the banner gets full,” Duncan said. “We have a lot of students that come out. There are a lot of students that look for this event, and they are more than happy to participate because they believe in what it stands for.”
According to Duncan, one of the big topics that they are pushing this year is consent and what it means. “We are defining it, what consent is and what it’s not, because the reality is a lot of people don’t know.”
The Student Counseling Center will also be organizing a sensitivity training for the Troy University and city of Troy police officers who respond to sexual assault calls.
Throughout the month, it will also be promoting the “It’s On Us” pledge campaign, which is a government-funded program that encourages everybody to take the pledge to not commit, condone or remain silent about sexual violence.
“By taking the pledge, what you’re saying is that you are not going to be a bystander to the problem, but a part of the solution,” Duncan said. “If you see someone that’s in danger or if you see something that’s suspicious, you are not just going to ignore it or turn the other cheek.
“You are going to speak up. You are going to try to help them. If somebody comes and tells you that they’ve been sexually assaulted, you are going to believe them and support them any way you can.”
Students can go to itsonus.org to find more details on the program and take the pledge.
The criminal justice department is also getting involved in raising awareness about sexual violence with a sexual assault symposium that will be held on April 9 on the main quad from 8:30-9:30 a.m. The criminal justice victomology class will be doing a poster presentation and a browse session for students to view and raise questions on the issue.