Categories: Journalism for the WebNewsOn Campus

By Samantha Jacquest
From the Royal Purple

If you wear skinny jeans, you cannot be raped.

That is the message that was sent by Australian courts in 2010 and South Korean courts in 2008. In both countries, two men were not charged with rape, on the basis that the women involved were wearing skinny jeans that were impossible to remove without the wearer’s help and consent.

In honor of these women and the millions who have been sexually assaulted, UW-Whitewater is participating in Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Wellness Coordinator Whitney Henley said the purpose of SAAM is to “raise awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.”

In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In a survey conducted by Wellness Services, 12 percent of UW-W students experienced a sexual assault during their college years.

Alan Jones, an assistant complex director on campus, said 85 percent of sexual assaults are between people that have known one another for at least a year.

“We have this myth in our head that people who are going to sexually assault others are creepy and that we can tell who they are, but that’s just not the case,” Henley said. “The ‘Nice Guy’ is going to be more successful at sexually assaulting people because people trust him or her if they are a charismatic person.”

In 2010, four sexual assaults were reported on the UW-Whitewater campus, and they were all between acquaintances. Ten sexual assaults were reported that occurred off-campus, three were between acquaintances, two were between strangers and five were unknown.

Jones said only 5 percent of sexual assaults are reported, so the number of assaults that were not reported could possibly be higher.

“Imagine the worst experience of your life, and having to tell that story over and over and over again,” Jones said.

As an undergraduate, Jones joined a Sexual Aggression Peer Advocacy committee at his school. He was part of 24-hour advocacy services for survivors of sexual assault and other forms of harassment. He has traveled around the world talking about sexual assault, specifically masculinity and bystander intervention.

“I don’t like to use the word prevention, because there is no such thing,” Jones said. “This isn’t something that you are able to prevent. That is why I talk a lot about ‘bystander intervention,’ which is you stepping up for somebody else when you see something happening. A lot of times when this crime happens, people know.”

Jones said another big factor of sexual assaults are that people do not know what sexual assault is.

“For example, somebody cannot give consent if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, things like that some people just don’t know,” Jones said. “So once people learn what it is that is happening then you are able to have more of an idea of what is happening with you and around you.”

Henley said the most common sexual assault situation on a college campus is between a male perpetrator, a female victim and alcohol being used by one or both people. She said that people who commit sexual crimes know what they are doing.

“Perpetrators typically see it more as opportunistic sex, rather than a crime,” Henley said. “There are people who think ‘just get a couple drinks in him or her, they’ll be easy then.’ And it’s that attitude that drives the assault.”

There are three main events occurring during the month of April. Take Back the Night, a march that leads to a bonfire at Starin Park where survivors share their experiences with other survivors and allies, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on April 9.

This photograph was licensed by Creative Commons via Flickr

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an event open to the public, but is focused toward males who put on women’s high-heeled shoes and walk one mile. The event is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 24 and starts in the University Center Hamilton Room. Henley said the event is to raise awareness of sexual assault and other crimes mainly against women. Students can register individually for $15 or $100 for teams, and all proceeds benefit People Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse.

Finally, throughout the entire month of April, there will be a denim drive in recognition for the women in Korea and Italy. Boxes to donate gently used men’s or women’s jeans can be found throughout campus.

There are organizations on campus designed to raise awareness of sexual assaults throughout the entire year. Henley is chair of the Sexual Assault Prevention Advisory Committee, which is made up of students and staff who meet once a month.

“The two goals are to raise awareness about sexual assault issues and support survivors about sexual assault,” Henley said.

A group of seven students are in the process of creating a student organization to raise awareness about sexual assaults. Henley will be the faculty adviser, and said the group should be running by fall 2013. She called them a group of “peer educators.”

Jones said a survivor blaming themselves is a common occurrence, but it does not matter what they were wearing or saying.

“Consent is the presence of a ‘yes,’ not the absence of a ‘no,’” Jones said