WKU to host events for sexual assault awareness

Casey Downey

March is sexual assault awareness month in Kentucky. In conjunction with Hope Harbor, a sexual trauma recovery center, WKU is putting on several events where all students are welcomed to become part of the dialogue.

Elizabeth Madariaga, staff counselor at WKU, works as a coordinator for the sexual assault services. She said it is important for universities to spread awareness of this issue.

“Women ages 16 to 24 are four times more likely than any other age groups to be assaulted,” said Madariaga. “Alcohol can play a significant part in sexual violence and important to increase the awareness of this issue.

It’s important to let our community know that we take this seriously and encourage our students to report and receive help so they can go on to be productive and successful community members. “

Madariaga said it’s time for people to put full blame on assaulters, and quit making excuses for why or how it happened.

“Society puts a lot of blame on the victim, questioning what they were wearing, why they were (there) and if alcohol is involved, why they were drinking,” said Madariaga. “We put the responsibility on the victim to reduce their risks instead of putting that responsibility on perpetrator to not commit the act of sexual violence.  

“We’ve got to talk about this openly, expressively and show support for the victim and intolerance for the perpetrator.”

Campbellsville senior Farrin Marlow said in order for victims of sexual assault to talk about their experiences there needs to be a more welcoming climate for discussion.

“Whenever you say something about being sexually assaulted, you’re either going to be met with one or two types of responses,” said Marlow. “Either ‘that didn’t happen,’ or ‘there’s something wrong with you now.’”

Marlow said people aren’t able to heal until they can talk about their experiences.

“The reality is that it’s happened to so many people that (it just takes) a couple people to stand up and say it’s okay for this to have happened to you,” said Marlow. “You will get through it, and you’re capable of doing something.”