The Daily Eastern News

Prevent sexual assult, promote discussion

Bailey Flesner, Columnist

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Many people only think of sexual assault as unwanted penetration, but it is so much more than that.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sexual assault is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

Catcalls, fondling, sexual touching and pressure for dates are also considered sexual assault.

Sexual assault can also happen at any time. Women are always told from a young age to “never travel at night” and “always travel in groups.”

There are other ways to take precautions, especially when others are around. Creating a distraction, approaching the potential victim directly, asking others for help or even get someone of authority involved are all techniques that could help keep the situation from going from bad to worse.

You might think that one person cannot make a difference, but you are wrong. You could save someone’s life because you made the choice to step up and take initiative. The burden to change the abusers behavior does not fall on you. Just do your best to make the potential victim feel protected.

Another misconception is that sexual assault only happens to women.

According to the Huffington Post, “79 percent of sexual assault victims are women, while 21 (percent) are men.”

It can take place anywhere, to anyone.

Sexual assault even happens to celebrities. It is easy to feel alone in the world, like no one can relate to your problems. Obviously, celebrities are on a completely other spectrum and at times it is hard to relate to them.

But their lives are not perfect, and horrible things can unfortunately happen to anyone.

During an interview at Ranker.com from March of this year, American actress Jane Fonda said, “I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child.”

Luckily, Eastern has a set of strict sexual assault policies.

The policies mention, “consent must be given each time parties engage in sexual activity.”

Consent can be changed at any time. “No” is a complete sentence and it is never the victim’s fault.

When talking to a family member, I remember them telling me that women should not be dressed in “provocative clothing” and “shouldn’t be drinking if they didn’t expect assault to happen.”

This is the kind of backwards thinking that keeps sexual assault victims from coming forward to authorities.

The way you dress and the extracurricular activities you participate do not determine your consent. It does not matter if it is emotional, psychological or physical. The abuse is not your fault.

It is unfortunate that there are so many people with so many tragic assault stories.

Eastern does not take sexual assault lightly, but I feel like the university can do more. As of 2015, the criminal statistics police report for Eastern states there have been five cases of criminal sexual abuse. While this number is relatively low, it should be at zero.

The university maintains several programs designed to eliminate sexual assault and misconduct. Some of these include Alcohol EDU and specialized training of Residence Life Staff.

Eastern also requires all incoming students to complete programs covering the alcohol safety and how to deal with situations where it may be unclear if a someone else is giving another person consent.

It is easy to file a complaint with police, but I feel that not enough students know that they can also file a complaint with the office of student standards. Better advertising around campus could be part of the solution to this problem.

There are also counseling services that victims should know more about, such as the Counseling Center.

The Coles County community also has the Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Services.

Your traumas are real, your feelings are valid and the abuse does not define you. For more information regarding sexual assault and preventative measures for Eastern, visit http://www.eiu.edu/mandatedinformation/assault.php.

Bailey Flesner is a junior communcations studies major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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Prevent sexual assult, promote discussion