April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM,) a time to acknowledge and support all survivors of sexual violence. Events are scheduled all month on campus to promote SAAM and get students involved in the discussion of helping those in need; no matter who you are, these events are designed to be inclusive for all students.
Though CCC is pushing inclusivity, and support for survivors, there is a noticeable lack of representation and support for men in the promotional material for SAAM around campus. The topic of sexual violence is a serious one, not exclusive to any gender, but the focus of the support is difficult to distribute equally without someone feeling slighted.
Statistics point out that one in three women are survivors of sexual violence, neglecting to mention the fact that around three percent of men in the U.S. have experienced sexual violence as well. These statistics can be found on RAIN.org, and even though the statistics are fairly different, they both paint a clear picture that sexual violence does not discriminate.
Jairo Rodriguez, CCC’s Associated Student Government President said “When we think about sexual assault, most of the time we think about women, when in reality it does happen to men.”
Rodriguez also talked about the difficulties of balancing representation for everyone, and how women should be at the tip of the spear for support, without discrediting males in need.
“It’s a very heavy topic.” CCC student Ian H. said “There is a stigma to be masculine and deal with any emotions on your own.”
The lack of a strong male presence in the issue is obvious. “The majority of those seeking support from me are mostly women, some transsexual, and some male.” CCC Sexual Assault Advocate Mary Vest said.
Supporting those affected by sexual violence is extremely important, said Vest. “To make a change towards a safer community, the change needs to start with the members of the community. It’s an ongoing discussion.”
“Grass roots” was a key phrase used by Emily Azor, a campus Administrator Assistant. Sexual assault is complicated, and there can be micro versions of sexual assault occurring without people even realizing it. The only way we can start a change, Azorr said, is with us as individuals. The stigmas that keep people from expressing the need for help out of fear can only be erased with time and hard work.
Emilie Azorr and Mary Vest were both very enthusiastic to talk about SAAM month in general, and brought up many good thoughts on the issues we face with sexual violence. Vest talked in depth on the fact that we just don’t know for certain how many men are affected by sexual violence, hard to say, and harder to address when men don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves.
For those seeking support for themselves or those they know affected by sexual violence, Mary Vest’s office is located in Barlow Hall room 202A the Oregon City campus. For individuals of any gender or orientation, counseling is available in the Bill Brod Community Center.
If you are in any way experiencing a crisis, or you just need someone to get your feelings out to, reach out to the 24-Hour Crisis Line at (503) 654-2288 or (888) 654-2288.