Sexual Assault Awareness Month dispels myths on male rape
Every 98 seconds, a United States citizen is the victim of sexual assault, and more than half of those individuals are under the age of 30.
Despite the prevailing belief that women are the only victims, 38 percent of these sexual assaults were against men, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
The University of Houston’s Women and Gender Resource Center is in the midst of its Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, and hosted “MYTH: Men Don’t Get Raped” on Thursday night to spotlight the issue of male rape and dispel myths through discussion.
“College students are impacted by sexual violence more than people think, and men are less likely to report and to seek support,” said Ashley Griffin, UH’s first Sexual Misconduct Support Services Coordinator. “Students can be great active bystanders and supporters of their friends and peers who have been impacted by sexual violence.”
Griffin said opening up this discussion on sexual abuse helps students understand the spectrum of sexual violence, which is largely misunderstood. By bringing awareness to the topic, Griffin said, the event will help dispel the belief that men are not victims of sexual violence and will encourage male survivors to come forward to report crimes and receive support.
Student awareness and education about the matter are important, Griffin said. She suggests that students increase awareness and education by discussing the issue with others, attending Sexual Assault Awareness Month events, asking questions at the WGRC or UH Wellness and by spreading knowledge.
Zhamma Vanderschoot, a pre-nursing junior, noted that she was better educated on sexual violence after hearing about the issue from a variety of viewpoints.
“It gave me different perspectives for the different people in the room, which is exactly what I wanted to be part of so I could understand victims and survivors, and how they felt,” Vanderschoot said. “I wanted to understand the situation so this was one of the steps I took towards educating myself, to help someone who’s gone through something like this.”
Biology junior Alvaro Aguayo was interested in creating the open discussion Griffin mentioned during the event.
“It is important to initiate the conversation of much needed dialogue — creating spaces in terms of what needs to be said,” Aguayo said. “I think that it perpetuates a sort of dialogue in general, and the best way she put it is that there are so many things present that are wrong. If we address that, (we) can alleviate it.”