by Amber Mendoza, RCS Intern
Sexual assault is a very important issue in society because it can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or race. However many people would rather not discuss this topic. Cultural differences may place shame and embarrassment on the victim and thus, many times the victim would rather stay quiet about the assault. In most cases victims go into a stage of self-blaming and develop long lasting physical and psychological trauma. Depression, social isolation and low self-esteem are common symptoms that victims of sexual assault face, which add more stressors to one’s life. Sexual assault is a growing epidemic on college campuses and needs to be addressed. Students may find themselves or others in a sexual assault situation and need to know what services are available to them.
Being a college student, I know first-hand how difficult school can be. I could not imagine how much more difficult life would be if I were dealing with psychological and psychical trauma that sexual assault victims face. I was alarmed when I discovered that about 1 in 4 college women are a victim of sexual assault.. My sister, my friends, and even I will have an increase percentage of being victims of sexual assault during our academic career. This is why rape and sexual violence is necessary to address, especially on college campuses.
I feel that there is a lack of education and awareness about sexual assault on college campuses. Many college students are unaware of available resources and services, which is why outreach events such as Take Back the Night are so beneficial. Take Back the Night was an event that brought awareness to ending violence against women and was held at the Fresno State campus in October. I was surprised to learn that this event took place every year because I have attended Fresno State for three years and this was my first time hearing about it. Like numerous students, I too was unaware of the different services offered to survivors. I was able to talk with other students during the event and I found that many were unfamiliar with RCS Fresno and the types of services we provide. As I continued to talk with other students I found that they had no idea that this event took place and only attended because a friend invited them or it was for a class assignment. At the end of the night, however, many stated they were glad they attended because it empowered and supported survivors.
It is important to continue addressing sexual assault on college campuses and equipping students with helpful tips and resources in the event they need or know of someone who may need support. These resources can then help victims in becoming survivors. Sexual assault seems to be a taboo subject that no one really wants to discuss; however, it needs to be!