FMU makes it RAINN

Katrina Moses, Staff Writer

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Campus police and Francis Marion University Counseling Services educated students at the second annual RAINN Day program on Sept. 25, to raise awareness against sexual assault on college campuses.

RAINN is an acronym for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which advocates against sexual violence at universities across the country.

Administrative Assistant for the School of Business Arthenius Jackson, helped organize this year’s RAINN Day. Her goal was to educate students about the number sexual assaults on campuses and help them better understand how it affects them.

“My main goal tonight was to hopefully have the students leave with these statistics, and let it seep in and spread the awareness-not just listen to it- but spread it,” Jackson said.

Campus police officer Tracey Tolson spoke at the event, and made the statistics more than just numbers by giving personal stories of how she tries to protect students on campus. She focused on a study done by the Department of Justice that shows a direct correlation between alcohol intake and sexual assault on university campuses.

“One in four women during their college career, four to five years, will be sexually assaulted,” Tolson said.

To make that more personal, she pointed to row that contained eight female students and stated that two of them are possible victims. She pointed at a row of four, then another row of four. She commented that out of the sixteen girls she counted, that four will probably get sexually assaulted during their college years.

Tolson also spoke on situational awareness and how to avoid situation in which sexual assault may occur. She said that 44 percent of the time an individual has someone accompany them, rape does not occur. She went on to give examples of situations that may arise for college women and explained that having a friend with you decreases the likelihood that sexual assault will take place.

Jackson commented that she wanted more than just statistics thrown at the attendees of the event because the information may stick with individuals better if there is meaningful dialect to go along with it.

Candace McElveen, a junior mass communication major, was part of the Straight Talk Panel at the event. The panel discussed the myths and the realities of sexual assault, and she says sometimes statistics do not stick with people.

“Most people don’t remember statistics unless they’re outstanding. If you give a personal story it sticks with them,” McElveen said

The purpose of the panel it was to get rid of stigmas and myths about sexual assaults. The panel discussed topics such as the falsehoods of a connection between how women dress and rape, and the idea that men can’t suffer from sexual assault

Jackson says that there is nothing wrong with man coming forth saying he was abused because male advocates are needed.

“Men advocates can show other men that women should be respected- it may reduce sexual assaults,” Jackson said.

Students who have been sexually assaulted have definable rights; the victim has up to one year to report about the assault, as well as legal and medical options. If the victim is defending himself or herself and are forced to injure the attacker in self-defense, the victim will not be charged.

The last thing Tolson commented on was that it is okay to fight off your attacker. She said the victim needs to defend himself or herself and, if possible, get DNA off of the attacker by scratching or biting them.

After an assault, the victim should avoid using the bathroom, taking a shower, changing clothes or washing their hands immediately. It is best for the victim to supply this type of information because, Tolson says, the body is walking evidence and can help arrest the attacker.

Yulaundra Ferguson-Heyward is the Assistant Director of the Counseling and Testing Center, which is located in Student Health Facility, and also spoke at the event. Her main focus was to let the attendees know that if a person was sexually assaulted help is available.

Ferguson-Heyward said just because an individual is coming to the Counseling and Testing Center doesn’t mean they are crazy. Help is always available.

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FMU makes it RAINN