Montana State Univ. Take Steps Towards Preventing Sexual Assault
One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college with a majority of survivors not reporting their assault according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
NBC Montana reports Montana State University's VOICE Center hosted a violence prevention workshop to teach students about sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking.
Those in attendance were asked to fill out a survey and take part in an exercise called "Stand Up". After filling out a survey, answers were swapped and people in the room were asked to stand up if the survey they were given agreed with a statement from the survey. One of those questions asked students if they knew anyone who was the survivor of a sexual assault. Most students in the room did.
"When we did the survey asking if you knew someone who had personally been a victim of sexual assault, everybody in the room stood up. I think the magnitude of that is really not represented by how much sexual assault is talked about in society," said MSU student Sam Larken. He says as a male, it was important for him to be part of the conversation as he believes men are less likely to speak up about assaults. To him, men play an important part in preventing sexual violence.
That's where the workshop to talk about sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking comes in. It's host, the VOICE Center, is a support system for people dealing with those kinds of issues. Students can go into the center, sit on a couch and talk to peer advocates about what they're going through.
"The issues that we talk about in the workshop are not unique to MSU. They're not unique to any college campus or any community. These are issues present in every community across the country," explained Joseph Schumacher. He is the Prevention and Education Coordinator at the VOICE Center.
The goal of the event was to get to the root of the issue of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. They did this through talking about language, discrimination and gender stereotypes.
"It doesn't matter if you're a girl or a boy or what you identify yourself as. You're going to be impacted by sexual assault so to start a discussion about it is really important," added Alice Ireland another MSU student. She attended the event with her sorority sisters so they can learn how to help prevent assaults and what to do if they think it's happened to someone they know.
Students put together a list of stereotypes for men and women. On the men's list were words like strength and masculine while the women's list had words like feminine and delicate. The VOICE Center says putting people into these boxes is part of what allows sexual violence to exist.
Hannah Telling, a volunteer peer advocate and educator for the VOICE Center, said "This workshop is bringing awareness to our campus on the little things people can do every day."
Students seeking support are encouraged to visit the VOICE Center. They offer walk-in hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the school year.