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The dilemma that can face victims of sexual assault

Editor:
      It has come to my final year of college and I can start to look back at all of my college years. Growing up, my perception of college revolved around plenty of late nights, either partying or studying, and over consumption of alcohol. However, after my experiences, I realize that it is in college that you discover yourself.
    With your new-found freedom you discover your desires, your dislikes and your limits to what you would do. Unfortunately, there are also experiences that happen in college during an unguarded moment that affect a variety of women, staying with them for a lifetime.
     Sexual assault is a crime that invades your whole being, robs you of your right to make decisions about your own body and often leaves you in the dark, bewildered and disgusted.
      Sexual assault is often depicted on TV as a violent crime where women are attacked by strangers that stake them out after dark in parking lots or alleyways. These events do occur; however, this is not always the case. Sexual assault is a crime that affects people of all races, ages and genders.
    College-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted. It usually involves alcohol and a series of events that are blurry and end up being labeled "questionable". When women are open to having a drink with a man, laughing and engaging in conversation, flirting or even kissing, these actions are considered to be indicators that a woman is interested in men. However, does a woman's choice to partake in these actions give men the permission to take things one step further?
      The aftermath of rape can be just as difficult as the experience itself. Often, women blame themselves for what has taken place. What is worse is that the people around them reinforce their self blame by asking questions like, "Why did you drink with him," "why were you wearing that outfit," "why did you go up to his room" or "why didn't you fight back."
     In reality, the only person who could have stopped the rape from occurring was the person who was committing the crime. No means no, no matter the circumstances. Due to the way our culture perceives sexual assault, the truth of the victimization is usually lost, and the victim, belittled and accused, is left feeling that they are on their own. The truth is that they were violated against their will by someone who didn't stop to ask for their consent. Lack of support from family, friends and community is one reason why 60 percent of rapes are never reported. It becomes necessary for sexual assault victims to have an ally that they can trust. They need someone to assist them on their journey to recovery and justice.
       Fortunately, there are people and organizations that advocate for victims of sexual assault. One of the organizations is the Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault Center (SRSAC).
      SRSAC is a non-profit organization that believes in providing resources and advocating on the behalf of victims of sexual assault. Their efforts help women learn ways to reduce their risk of being a victim of a sexual assault, provide them with forensic exams following an incident and educate and assist them on what they can do about their specific case.
       SRSAC finds innovative ways to meet the needs of sexual assault victims. For example, they will be having their first annual Sexual Assault Survivor conference (SAS) in April of 2011, where they will put emphasis on the well-being, strength and healing of sexual assault victims. Attention to this problem and change how we view sexual assault as well as empowerment for its survivors is necessary. SRSAC needs your support. Spread the word./
     For more information about the SAS conference and SRSAC efforts, please visit www.srsac.org.
Margo Campbell
Statesboro

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