VSCC holds understanding sexual assault seminar

by Lillian Lynch
On Oct. 18 You have the Power… know how to use it, Inc. hosted a seminar on understanding sexual assault.
Veronica Clark, the main speaker, began the presentation with background information on You have the Power. It was formed in 1993 by Andrea Conte, the former First Lady of Tennessee and a victim of sexual assault.
Clark showed a documentary entitled “I Never Thought it was Rape.” The video showed three women, all victims of sexual assault, telling their stories.
The first woman told a story of the aftermath of a college party. Her boyfriend at the time let her ride home with one of her friends after she had been drinking. He took advantage of that and of her. She was left believing it was her own fault.
The second woman to tell her story began with her meeting a man at a club. They were together at his apartment when his advances became
forceful. It was not until she talked to a psychologist at her school that she figured out it was rape. This discovery led her into alcoholism and a string of multiple lovers.
The third woman explained that her family had just moved to TX and she was trying to make friends. At the time, she was 13 and she met an older boy of 17. He became her first boyfriend and showed kindness to her parents. One day, they were locked in her room when he antagonized her into having sex. She had never even had her period.
After the documentary, Clark showed a short clip on the meaning of consent.
Consent must be voluntary. If someone is incapacitated they cannot give consent. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” Consent must be a clear and conscious decision.
Next was a guest speaker, Shirley Marie Johnson, a victim of sexual assault and President and CEO of Exodus, Inc. She began by asking the audience their feelings on recent occurrences of public gures’ misogynistic comments.
She then went on with a few statistics.
Only three percent of rapists are convicted and serve their time. In Afghanistan, women are imprisoned for being raped. Women have a two- to-one chance of being raped versus getting breast cancer.
Johnson then told her story.
“In six years of marriage, about 900 times I woke up with my husband on top of me, doing things to me,” said Johnson.
She then explain how her church had told her she needed to go home and please her husband.
Once her time was up, a panel of three people got together in front of the audience to take questions.
The rst question was from the audience.
“Do you think more people are reporting sexual assault?”
“Since I’ve been on campus I have seen more people report it. The word’s getting out that it’s okay to talk about it,” said Angela Lawson, the Assistant Chief of Campus Police.
“Resources for victims and media
awareness are increasing,” said Lori Cutrell, Director of Human Resources. The next question was, “How can someone here report a sexual assault?” “You can report to anyone here on campus. There are upwards of 80 official reporters. Faculty is mandated to report by policy but not by federal
law,” said Lawson.
There are also step-by-step
instructions on how to report an assault and things to do and not to do directly after a sexual assault under Volunteer State Community College’s Policies and Procedures page on www.volstate. edu.
“What’s the difference between sexual assault and rape?” asked Clark.
“Sexual assault is touching and groping while rape is unwanted penetration,” said Lawson.
The next question was, “How many reports of sexual assault have there been on campus in the last three years?”
“There have been about 10 – 15 reports just to Human Resources,” said Cutrell.
The next question was directed at Johnson.
“How long was it before you decided to seek help?”
“I knew something was wrong but I was afraid to leave and be looked down on by the church. He wanted the divorce. I didn’t want to be the one to do that,” said Johnson.
The last question was, “How do the rape victims go on with their lives?” “Some find healing in helping others that have been through the same thing. It depends on the person,” said
The seminar was left with a word
of advice.
“It’s never your fault,” said