Features@kaleo.org | Alvin Park Editor |Maria Kanai Associate
Page 5 | Ka Leo | Wednesday, Sept. 21 2011
Features City officials and students combat sexual assault, dating violence K ARLEANNE M AT THEWS Chief Copy Editor In 2009, 125,910 cases of sexual assault were reported in the United States, 243 were reported in Honolulu and six were reported at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. But city ofﬁ cials and UH Mānoa students are working to increase awareness and reduce sexual and relationship violence in our community.
S E X UA L A S S AU LT Some may perceive that sexual predawed alley tors are strangers lurking in shadowed alleyways. But according to a factt sheet provided rtment of the Prosecutby the Honolulu Department ing Attorney, over 85 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by acquaintances. Females in the dorms are particularly at risk, according to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott Spallina. “Women [just starting college] are entering a whole new world. They’re so used to the safety that mom and dad gave them. They’re so used to being secure in their bedrooms,” said Spallina. As freshmen are constantly making new friends in class or at the cafeteria, they may overestimate these acquaintances’ reliability. “Just because of that casual familiarity with someone, you think that you can trust them, but realistically, you don’t know anything about them,” reminded Spallina. Because of this, he recommended that new students stay in groups and agree to be responsible for one another, even if that means pulling a friend away when she isn’t ready to leave. Spallina also recommended that students limit or abstain from alcohol, as drinking can lead to poor decision making. “When I say poor decision making, it makes me sound like I’m blaming the victim, which I’m not at all,” clariﬁed Spallina. “But [I’m talking about] inexperienced ... decision making that would lead people to become vulnerable to predators.
“Have responsible fun. I know that sounds like I’m asking you to join a church fellowship, but if you just use some common sense, then you can enjoy your college life tremendously.” Spallina advised several times to “Stay grounded in reality.” “If your instinct is saying, ‘warning: be careful,’ just trust your instinct. You don’t have to make a big scene and say, ‘Oh my God, you’re going to rape me,’ but you can just politely decline,” he said. Spallina also warned students not to feel the pressure to party as if each event is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. “If you miss an opportunity to go to a beer blast ... you know what, there will fut utt ur u e th hat probably be another one in the future that you can go to under better circumstances,” he said.
DAT I N G V I O L E N C E Students in relationships may also be victimized through dating abuse. According to data from the prosecutor’s ofﬁce, 80 percent of young women who are physically abused by their partners stay in the relationship. This is partially because they believe they are responsible for the abuse. “They think that if they love [their partners] enough ... that person would not be abusive anymore. And that’s not true,” said Spallina. “It’s not the action of the victim ... it’s just the makeup of the abuser.” But abuse extends far beyond physical violence. Threats are also considered abuse, and in some situations,, an abusive partner may even threaten to hurt himself if his partner leaves. “It’s not [necessarily] a crime of violence; it’s a crime of control,” said Spallina.
He warned against romanticizing attitudes that indicate a desire to manipulate, such as extreme jealousy. “Jealousy is not sexy,” said Spallina. Abusive partners fear that the inﬂ uence of others will lessen their own control. The manipulation at the heart of dating violence isn’t speciﬁ c to one group. Although statistically women are at greater risk, men or individuals in same-sex relationships can also experience abuse. “Sometimes, even in our ofﬁ ce, we are used to stereotypes. And so when the police roll up at a scene and they see two people arguing and the man is saying ‘she’s hitting me,’ the police may tend to ignore that plea for help from the man and say, ‘ma’am, are you OK?’ “Some of these advocates for domestic violence [victims] believe that a man cannot be abused. “ T hat ’s something we need to shif t around to say, ‘No, anybody can be abused.’”
L E GA L C O N S E Q U E N C E S Spallina, who graduated from UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law, served for 13 years prosecuting domestic violence crimes, and said he had seen many cases involving UH students and other collegeaged people. But the prosecutor’s ofﬁ ce is increasing educational efforts to reduce victimization. “We don’t want more work,” Spallina said. Reducing sexual violence and rela ationsh ship p aabuse buse bu se is relationship part pa rticularly difﬁcult beparticularly cause these crimes are cconsistently co nsistently under-reported, according to a study ed, done by the Department of the Attorney General of Hawai‘i.
“For the cases that we see, we know that there are 10, 20, 30, to 100 cases that we don’t ever hear about,” said Spallina. “You have a lot of these women suffering in silence.”
TA K E BAC K T H E N I G H T Students interested in responding to violence against women may want to attend “Take Back the Night” this evening. The event, organized by the National Organization for Women at UH Mānoa and the Rape-Free Zone Coalition, will speak out against sexual violence. “There are a million reasons to attend ‘Take Back the Night,’” wrote RFZC cocoordinator and third-year UH law student Fawn Jade Koopman in an email. She suggested “Because you believe in the importance of ... end[ing] all forms of gendered violence” as one possibility. All students and community members are invited to attend. “We tend to see violence against women as just an individual problem or just a women’s problem, but it actually is an issue that d affects all of us,” said NOW at UHM president and co-coordinator of the event Hadas Zachor. “Everybody deserves to feel safe.” For details about TBTN, visit http://bit.ly/ p2CFwu. For more on the the warning signs of an abusive personality, visit kaleo.org.
RESOURCES The Women’s Center – 808-956 -8059, Queen Lili‘uokalani Center, Room 211
“Counselors in Residence” contacted through Resident Advisors in dorms The Sex Abuse Treatment Center 24-hour hotline – 808-524-7273 The Ofﬁ ce of the Gender Equity Counselor – 808-956 -9977 UH Counseling and Student Development – 808-956 -7927 SHINICHI TOYAMA / KA LEO O HAWAI‘I
University Health Services – 808-956 -8965