Events to promote sexual assault awareness

Spencer Jenkins

WKU is raising sexual assault awareness this month by hosting events that aim to stop sexual violence and encourage victims to feel comfortable telling their stories.

Staff Counselor Elizabeth Madariaga said in an email that the Counseling and Testing Center has been working with Hope Harbor, a sexual trauma recovery center, in a collaborative effort to increase awareness of sexual violence in the community.

“We work with them, as well as other community agencies, to show support to victim survivors,” she said.

Madariaga said sexual violence affects both men and women and that one in three females and one in six males will be victims of some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

“It’s important to increase the awareness so that people know if this happened or happens to them that they are not alone,” she said. “They can be assured they don’t have to go through this crisis by themselves and that they are supported.

“These events also help to be a voice for those that might not be able to speak out for themselves until they are ready or can speak up.”

Madariaga said people approach sexual assault as a taboo topic, and if it’s not talked about, then it doesn’t happen.

“I’m hoping by talking about this, we allow comfort and courage for people to come forward and report these incidences,” she said. “I’m also hoping to increase awareness so that these incidences do not occur.”

According to WKUPD police records, since Jan. 1, 2012, there have not been any sexual assaults on campus.

Along with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, WKUPD also offers a Rape Aggression Defense program.

Mandi Johnson, public information officer for WKUPD, said RAD gives women options to use if being attacked.

“RAD teaches women how to assess possible risks, how to physically respond to an attack and overall gives them options,” she said

RAD class numbers are around 10 students but have had classes as large as 33 before, Johnson said.

“We want female students to be educated in self-defense and risk awareness,” she said. “Not to say you will be a victim, but statistics say one in four women are victims of sexual assault.”

Johnson said during Sexual Assault Awareness Month it’s important to remind women that assaults can happen.

“It helps survivors heal,” she said. “It helps educate those who are not aware they might be doing something wrong when it comes to sexual behavior.”