April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and during this time and throughout the year, Millersville spreads awareness and teaches prevention practices. Sexuality was discussed by guest speakers at the 2012-2013 Lecture Series held in McComsey. The Housing Department also sponsored more recent programs to raise awareness such as the Consent is Sexy campaign.
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month, the Women’s Wellness Center is running a R.A.D. class. There is a ten dollar deposit for the course, but once participants complete the four classes, they get their money back. After you complete the course, you are officially a lifetime member of R.A.D. This means you can join any class for free to brush up on defense skills or learn new material.
The program this year is run by Justin Foreman and Marilyn Torrez. Foreman has been working with campus police for six years and with the R.A.D. program for four years. Torrez has been with MUPD for one year and recently became an instructor. Unfortunately, the classes are only offered once a semester.
“I wish we could [hold R.A.D. classes] weekly and maybe have it as a credit course,” says Foreman, though he believes it should not be mandatory.
The frequency of the classes may be an issue. “I saw it on a poster freshman year,” explains Felicia Guarriello. She is currently a junior but never was able to take the calss until now because of her schedule and the lack of times offered.
Although Millersville was named the thirteenth safest university in Pennsylvania, self-defense classes are still argued to be essential. Nobody thinks it could happen to them until it does. That is why prevention methods are important.
“I think [self-defense] is good to know in any situation. You [will not] always be on Millersville’s campus,” explains Misigana Assega, who is currently taking the R.A.D. class.
Not only does self-defense teach participants how to escape and fight back, it teaches them confidence and gives them a sense of safety.
“I am hoping to build confidence, so I might not panic as much if I was being attacked. [This class gives me] the sense that I will feel safer,” says Guarriello.
Prevention and education are key to decreasing the number of sexual assaults.
“In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime and nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced other forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives,” states the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
Most of the time victims remain silent about the incident because they feel responsible, ashamed and scared. Many assaults go unreported because of these reasons. This is why victims need some encouragement. To contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network call 1-800-656-HOPE.
“Personally, I do feel it is important to report sexual assault, but you don’t have to go further than reporting it,” explains Foreman.
Pressing charges and going through the legal process is not necessary, though suggested by many. Victims are not the ones to blame for the assault. Many feel powerless and embarrassed. It is commonly agreed that this needs to change.
“[It is important to report incidents of sexual assault] because women [will not] feel like the victims. They should [not] feel embarrassed or ashamed because they did nothing wrong,” explains Torrez.
The Rape Culture phenomenon has gained support and momentum lately due to acts of politicians and corporations and the public outcry that ensued. Rape Culture activists believe that the society we live in must stop normalizing rape by brushing off the seriousness of the action by giving excuses for the perpetrator and blaming the victim. They go on to explain that masculinity should not be portrayed as asserting dominance over women. Also, femininity should not mean being submissive under the pressure of a man.
“[The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness month is] to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence” says the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
The international Sexual Assault Awareness month is sponsored by The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). They are a coalition that is meant to educate people on sexual violence prevention.
“By working together we can highlight sexual violence as a major issue in our communities and reinforce the need for prevention efforts,” explains the NSVRC website.
Specifically, 2013’s Sexual Assault Awareness month is dedicated to raising awareness about child sexual assault and promoting the teaching of healthy sexual behaviors.
Twitter has become a forum to discuss these concerns. On April 23 at 2 p.m., participants can contact Dr. Ian Elliot, who is a research scholar and a criminal psychologist for the Justice Center for Research at Penn State University through social media. His twitter name is @ianaelliott. This is in partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. For more information, call the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at