CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Coastal Carolina University is observing sexual assault awareness week as part of a nationwide effort on many college campuses. The goal is to get sexual assaults down to zero.
The hope is that raising awareness will give people the courage to come forward and speak up and speak out against sexual violence.
Officials said that a rape culture still exists that blames the victims of sexual assault and makes them feel like it was their fault in some way; so often times victims are scared to report incidents.
That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence especially on a college campus.
“We want classmates, we want others that are around our students who might be perpetrated against to step up and step in and intervene so that a situation that is starting to head down that path can be stopped,” said Jennie Cassidy, Director of Counseling Services at CCU.
Sexual assault is a major problem at universities across the country. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network says one in four college students will likely be the victim of sexual violence.
Beyond awareness of the issue itself, CCU is offering the educational programs to let students know what resources are available to them.
Cassidy said abusers fall into two categories, predators who know what they’re doing is wrong and choose to do it anyway; and people who may not know what they’re doing is wrong, but aren’t thinking through their actions.
“A lot of people who perpetrate they don’t even realize that they’ve perpetrated sexual violence, so a lot of our education is designed to get them think through situations and control their use of alcohol which often contributes to this problem,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy said alcohol or drugs are a part of most sexual violence incidents encounter at the college and they work to educate their students on alcohol use before an incident occurs.
Various programs and events, open to the public, are being held as a way to encourage discussion and promote awareness of the problem.
On Monday students created posters with messages supporting victims of sexual violence.
There will be a take back the night march and rally on Tuesday evening at 6:00pm at the Lib Jackson Student Union courtyard.
The public is invited to march through campus to show empathy to survivors and encourage others to take a stand.