April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Carmen Leng

Misinterpreted verbal consent by both genders can often lead to unwanted sexual contact and result in sexual assault.

During April, Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, Story County Sexual Assault Response Team, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and a number of university departments and student organizations will be joining with people throughout the state and the nation to focus the public’s attention on sexual assault.

The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center’s mission is to raise awareness of sexual violence on campus. A series of informative events on sexual violence will take place throughout the month to highlight the need for prevention efforts.

“Sometimes, It’s hard to get students to attend events and program because it’s such an intense and sensitive subject, but every day you can see how much these events are needed on college campuses,” said Christine Peterson, graduate in educational leadership and policy studies and graduate assistant at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.

On college campuses one in every four women will be sexual assaulted during their academic career and often times those incidents go unreported, Peterson said.

“Student’s find reporting sexual assault hard because a lot of the times it’s someone’s good friend, classmate or fraternity brother, which makes you think no one is going to believe you because you have the same friends,” Peterson said.

On college campuses, 90 percent of the time the assaulter is an acquaintance to the victim, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network website.

“Even if students are engaging in casual sex with friends, they need to make sure they are using words about what they want to do and what’s not alright,” said Kristin Hopper-Losenicky, graduate assistant working in the women studies department. “Although, students may find that conversation embarrassing, it needs to be done.”

Verbal consent must be obtained in each instance of sexual intimacy and as the level of sexual intimacy increases, Hopper-Losenicky said. The wrong implications can lead to unwanted sex.

“There is so much victim blaming, the target may think … ‘I shouldn’t have been wearing that, I shouldn’t have been drinking that or been at that place with so and so,'” Peterson said.

Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes on campus. It is important to remember that sexual assault is a crime and the victim is never to blame.

“Anastasia Prokos, assistant professor of women studies, lectured one time that, women should be able to wear nothing and still not get raped,” Hopper-Losenicky said.

“A lot of times, when I am talking to classes I say, ‘Last time I knew sexual assault wasn’t a punishment, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted,'” said Steffani Simbric, program assistant for public safety and Story County Sexual Assault Response Team coordinator.

The events the Sloss House will have throughout April will aim to educate students about sexual assault, as well as support victims.

“As a university we are being so progressive with all these events and the number of institutions that [Iowa State] has created to prevent sexual misconduct,” Simbric said.

“To me, sexual assault awareness months is something that happens most frequently on campus, but [is the] least talked about, that’s why these events are so important because even if doesn’t pertain to you I bet you know someone who is a survivor of sexual assault,” Peterson said.