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Sexual Assault Awareness A Battalion Special Package

Stigma and Silence

The legal side of the issue A look at the legislation passed in response to the #MeToo movement By Kenya Robinson @_KenyaJ

Cassie Stricker — THE BATTALION

Nine percent of sexual assault survivors are male, however, men do not always have the same resources that are available to women.

Eliminating the stereotypes around male sexual assault survivors By Diana Paredes @paredesaguilera One in 71 men in the U.S. will be raped at some point in their lives, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). While starting a conversation about this issue can be difficult, experts and survivors emphasize the importance of bringing awareness to male sexual assault survivors. The NSVRC reports 9 percent of rape and sexual assault survivors are male, and over half of male victims are abused by someone they know. While male sexual assault cases on campus are not reported very often, male sexual assault survivors deserve the same respect, attention and access to adequate resources as female survivors, according to Kristen Harrell, associate director for the Dean of Student Life.

Stephanie Brown, industrial and organizational psychology graduate student researching male sexual assault, said there are common misconceptions about male sexual assault which prevent open communication within a community. “Men who are victims of sexual assault from other men — which is about 90 percent of male sexual assault — might fear being stereotyped as gay or as wanting such sexual contact,” Brown said. “That’s absolutely untrue. Sexual assault, for men and women, has very little to do with sexual desire and everything to do with power and the perpetrator exerting power over another person.” Brown said the misconception that men and women sexually abuse others according to their sexual orientation should be reconsidered. “Even the idea that a man who sexually assaults other men must be gay is wrong,” Brown said. “The majority of men who rape or assault other men identify as straight. However, if we hold this idea in our minds

that men are supposed to be able to protect themselves or not freeze during an assault, we make it difficult for survivors to come forward and talk about the abuse they experience.” Isaac Sabat, psychology assistant professor, said the majority of survivors are sexually assaulted by someone they know, making it difficult for some survivors to confront their attackers after the incident. “They’re in shock that someone they know and trust would betray them like that,” Sabat said. “Even seemingly joking behavior between friends can be assault, and it’s always best to behave like you’re in an airport: ‘If you see something, say something.’ It’s a lot better to stand up and prevent an instance of sexual assault or harassment and find out you misread the situation than it is to let sexual assault take place right in front of you.” Victor Villasana, English sophomore, said the image of masculinity within a community can affect which messages he and others are expected to display or keep in the dark. MALE VICTIMS ON PG. 4

Report. Respond. Recieve resources. What to do and where to go to find support on Texas A&M’s campus By Kenya Robinson @_KenyaJ Preparing to report a perpetrator, mustering up the courage to seek help or discussing your experience with sexual abuse can all be very difficult. But Texas A&M staff can help. Sexual assault survivors can access a number of resources on campus if they are looking to report a sexual assault case to authorities, looking for someone to talk to or looking to learn more about giving consent and maintaining healthy relationships. These resources, such as the University Police Department and their Victim Advocate program and Student Assistance Services (SAS) work to educate and provide assistance to survivors of sexual assault. By connecting students with the appropriate personnel to help with personal and

academic issues, SAS serves as one of the main resources on campus which students report to when dealing with sexual assault. Melanie McKoin, case manager for SAS, said each survivor of sexual abuse requires a different kind of support when it comes to the grieving and healing process. “[We ask], ‘Are we getting them connected with our victims advocate over in the UPD, College Station Police Department or Bryan Police Department?’” McKoin said. “It’s really addressing a student as they are and meeting them where they are, so sometimes it’s in those conversations. It’s seeing what they need, where they’re at, helping them figure out what they need.” If students are looking to report their sexual assault case to the university, SAS is the place to go, according to McKoin. After reporting a case to SAS, a university investigation will begin and offenders will be held accountable based on student rules outlined in the student code of conduct. If university investigators find the alleged offender is re-

In response to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, Congress has been working on new legislation to address the issue of sexual assault in the workplace. The MeToo movement, first coined by activist Tarana Burke in 2006, went viral on social media last October after actress Alyssa Milano shared a tweet encouraging women who had been victims of sexual abuse to speak up. Milano’s tweet was in response to actress Alyssa Judd and other women speaking up about allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which sparked a call for accountability in the entertainment and political scene. The Time’s Up movement began when Hollywood celebrities banded together to create a legal defense fund in response to the Weinstein effect. As reported by the Associated Press, more than two dozen lawmakers across the nation resigned from office amid sexual assault allegations since the beginning of 2017. In response, the U.S. Senate passed a mandatory sexual assault training resolution in November, required for both Senate and House members. The resolution requires all representatives and their staff to complete mandatory sexual assault and harassment training within 60 days, to be repeated at least once every two years. Hoping to take this legislation to the next level, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act to address the issues with the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which required Congress and the legislative branch to follow workplace and employment practices set forth in private businesses and the rest of the federal government. LEGISLATION ON PG. 2

sponsible for the sexual assault, the case will then make its way to the student conduct office, where the offender can face a number of consequences, ranging from expulsion from the university to required enrollment in consent classes. Kristen Harrell, associate director for the Dean of Student Life, said students should be aware of the difference between the law and university rules. “If someone chooses to report [a sexual assault case] to the university, they are not obligated to go to the police, but we also don’t prevent them from going to the police so that they will be in control whether or not they go to law enforcement, or if they choose to pursue the university process.” Harrell said For incidents which occurred on campus, the UPD can assist students who would like to open a criminal investigation. To provide support and information throughout this RESOURCES ON PG. 2


Cassie Stricker — THE BATTALION

Student Assistance Services, the Student Counseling Helpline and the Sexual Assault Resource Center are all available resources for students who have been sexually assaulted.

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Additions, deletions and changes to the University Student Rules may occur over the course of the year. The following student rules have been revised: Rule Grading

LEGISLATION CONTINUED The Congressional Accountability Act is currently awaiting Senate approval, an action Senator Gillibrand said is not moving as fast as it should in her letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell back in February. “The more time that goes by without addressing this broken system, the more people suffer,” Gillibrand said in her letter. “Offices suffer from the lack of certainty about what is required of them. Staffers suffer when they feel as though they have no place safe to turn in the face of harassment and discrimination. The taxpayers suffer when they are required to shoulder the financial burden of our elected officials’ poor behavior.” When discussing sexual assault resources on Texas A&M’s campus, Kristen Harrell, associate director for the Dean of Student Life, said holding people accountable for their actions at all levels of society is something which needs to happen. “I certainly think this is a critical subject and it’s certainly been in the spotlight nationally for the last few years and I think that’s good,” Harrell said. “I think we are finally having some more upfront conversations about this issue and we are starting to pay attention.”


Notice of University Student Rule Revisions

Rule # 10


The Battalion | 4.16.18

Since the passage of the Congressional Accountability Act in 1995, millions of dollars have been used to settle sexual harassment claims, as outlined by Speier’s statement in November. Spier said she is proud both sides could come together to put an end to the inappropriate behavior on Capitol Hill. “In 1995, Congress created the Office of Congressional Compliance (OCC) to protect itself from being exposed, and it has been remarkably successful,” Spier said in a statement. “Twenty years later, 260 settlements and more than $15 million have permanently silenced victims of all types of workplace discrimination. Zero tolerance is meaningless unless it is backed up with enforcement and accountability.” The MeToo legislation sets forth provisions which include prohibiting non-disclosure agreements and requiring the OCC to conduct annual sexual assault training. Most importantly, the bill would provide legal representation to the victims and allow the complainant to work away from the office if requested. The bill would also require the name of the employing office and the amount of the award or settlement to be published on OCC’s website. The bill extends protections to unpaid congressional staff.

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process, UPD has a Victim Advocate program, led by Kristen Brunson, which helps students know what to expect after opening a criminal investigation into a reported incident. “One of the things working with survivors is just giving the control back to them,” Brunson said. “I think one of the things with my position, being the fact that I can give people information and still be respectful of what they want to do in that situation, is really important because they’ve likely had control taken away from them.” Lt. Bobby Richardson said Brunson’s role in the Victim Advocate program is an essential asset to UPD, because Brunson serves as a liaison between those who are confused about the reporting process and police officers who want to make campus a safer place for all students. “You walk up to me on the street and say, ‘Hey Lieutenant, I have a friend that was sexually assaulted. What do you think I should do?’ I can’t report it if you don’t tell me,” Richardson said. “I’m in a difficult situation. I’m a guy in a uniform, I want to help you, so here is where Kristen’s role comes in. I say, ‘Hey, here is Kristen’s number, she can hook you up with student services, student conduct, College Station police, Phoebe’s Home, so we use her as our go-to person.’ … When it comes to sexual assault, she is our most valuable resource.”

Cassie Stricker — THE BATTALION

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The Battalion | 4.16.18

Brazos Valley support Several off-campus locations provide services and counseling By Deborah Anderaos @deborahanderaos In addition to on-campus resources, the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) and Twin City Missions are places within the Bryan-College Station community students can go to for support. For over three decades, SARC has assisted thousands of sexual assault survivors in the area through their free and confidential services. From crisis intervention and counseling, to community outreach and education, SARC provides resources to the seven counties in the Brazos Valley. Jennifer Hunt, education and outreach specialist for SARC, said their resources fall under two categories. “First, we have a 24/7 crisis hotline, the number is (979) 731-1000. Someone can call that number at anytime, day or night, 365 days a year if they need to talk to somebody, if they need questions answered,” Hunt said. “Also, we have a team of members that dispatch to the hospital within 30 minutes of a call coming into our center.” Hunt said SARC dispatches when someone who has been sexually assaulted chooses to receive an examination conducted by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). The SANE conducts a forensic examination, which preserves DNA evidence of the alleged perpetrator, and examines the survivor for any injuries and possible sexually transmitted diseases or infections. When this examination is conducted, an advocate from SARC goes to the survivor in the hospital to make sure they’re being respected and their decisions are being listened to. “The other services we have ... are more therapeutic,” Hunt said. “We have three full time counselors. One is Spanish speaking, another travels out to the six [other] counties of Brazos Valley so she’s available to people who can’t come to us. We have six support groups that meet at our location and all these services are free and confidential.” Esmeralda Casas, education and outreach specialist and Spanish speaking advocate at

SARC, said she enjoys meeting other people and getting services to survivors. “We hadn’t been able to reach as many populations as we wanted and now I enjoy making sure we reach out to everyone,” Casas said. SARC also focuses on educating the community about sexual assault and related topics. Hunt said SARC hosts programs to inform people at Texas A&M, public schools in the area, professional settings and medical settings. Twin City Mission also serves the seven counties in the Brazos Valley by providing services for homeless people, violence and abuse victims and others. Jordan Utsey, outreach and prevention specialist for Twin City Mission, said her advice to students is to seek help if they are in a dangerous situation. “It is hard to see when you’re in [an abusive relationship] and you’ve had enough,” Utsey said. “You realize you don’t want to do this anymore and are scared. We at Twin City Mission want to help people before they get to this point, but unfortunately it’s not always like that. So seek services, don’t be embarrassed or scared, our services are all free and SARC is free.” Utsey said her advice for friends of a survivor is to never discourage them. She added that encouraging the survivor, and making it clear that they are understood and loved is imperative to dealing with the situation. According to Utsey, confronting the abuser is often harmful to the survivor. “Don’t ever confront the abuser, especially behind the victim’s back,” Utsey said. “This could cause more harm for the victim. Just don’t leave the victim, always be there for them.” Casas said spreading awareness starts by admitting sexual assault is a problem in the community and conducting personal research on the issue. “I want to let people know that it is ok if you are a survivor and know someone that is a survivor and don’t have all the answers,” Casas said. “That’s what we are here for, 24/7, and we hope that although you may not feel comfortable going to a family [member] or a friend, there is always a 24/7 hotline here to talk.”

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The Battalion | 4.16.18

MALE VICTIMS CONTINUED Brad Morse, Editor in Chief THE BATTALION is published Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the 2018 spring semester and Tuesday and Thursday during the summer session (except University holidays and exam periods) at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. Offices are in Suite L400 of the Memorial Student Center. Newsroom phone: 979-845-3315; E-mail: editor@; website: http://www.thebatt. com. For campus, local, and national display advertising call 979-845-2687. For classified advertising, call 979-845-0569. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Email:

“Men are portrayed as masculine people who protect and can handle themselves and therefore can stop this sort of act from occurring to them,” Villasana said. “For the men themselves, it’s pretty shameful to talk about as they feel that they have lost part of their own masculinity.” Looking to the futures of students on Texas A&M’s campus and other places around the world, Brown said removing barriers to

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communication is the only way things can get better. “It’s important to learn how to both recognize sexual assault and learn how to respond to such situations,” Brown said. “It’s better to intervene in something that you’ve mistaken for sexual assault than to not intervene in a real sexual assault situation. You might feel awkward for getting it wrong, but the awkwardness will fade. And really, it’s better than feeling ashamed for not preventing something worse.”

Know the signs of sexual abuse In helping assault survivors, recognizing these flags is important By Kenya Robinson @_KenyaJ

The Power of Mentoring: Shaping Lives, Strengthening Futures


From blue bruises around the neck to constantly avoiding friends on campus, there are a variety of warning signs survivors of sexual assault may exhibit. If you believe someone may have been sexually assaulted, here are a few signs to look out for and ways to access resources. Physical Signs: Although easier to identify, survivors of sexual assault may try to hide unexplained bruises, scars or any other evidence on the body, specifically in the genital or anal area, which show they have been sexually abused. This can cause survivors to be cautious about what they wear and become insecure about their personal appearance. Isolation: Sudden withdraw from social activity with friends and family is one of the biggest signs of sexual abuse, and can eventually lead to depression and anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health, sexual abuse can contribute to elevated rates of depression, anxiety and other disorders, especially among females. Other signs of isolation include total dependence on the perpetrator, who could also be responsible for controlling the survivor, keeping them away from family and friends. You may also notice your friend avoiding the location where the assault occurred. Substance Abuse: Survivors of sexual assault may try to cope with their situation by abusing alcohol or other drugs to help “take the pain away” for a period of time. Substance abuse can also lead to depression and anxiety, as well as sleep disturbances or nightmares, causing the survivor to have trouble sleeping. Suicide Attempts: In a 2017 study, the National Institutes of Health found teens who experience sexual or dating violence,

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especially males, are more likely to commit suicide. For some survivors, trying to cope with a traumatic experience can be too much for them. It’s important to check on your friends, ask them how they are feeling and encourage them to seek professional help about any suicidal thoughts. What Should I Do If I Notice Some Of These Signs? If you think your friend has been sexually assaulted, consistently check on them. You should try to have welcoming, judgement-free conversations with your friend, so they won’t feel pressured to share details about the situation until they are ready. If you witness someone being sexually abused or assaulted, call 911 immediately. What If My Friend Doesn’t Want To File A Report? The best thing you can do for your friend who has been sexually assaulted but doesn’t want to file a report is to assist them in seeking help. Go with your friend to a sexual assault resource center or a sexual assault victims unit at your local police station to get counseling services and learn more about the reporting process. Resources For Sexual Assault Survivors In Bryan-College Station Include: •Sexual Assault Resource Center 24-hour hotline: (979) 731-1000 •Twin City Missions-Phoebe’s Home: (979) 775-5355 (24-hour emergency hotline) •Student Assistance Services: 979) 845-3113 •University Police: (979) 845-2345 •College Station Police Victims Advocacy & Assistance Program: (979) 764-5004 •National Sexual Assault Hotline: (1-800) 656-4673 •College Station Medical Center: (979) 764-5100, 1604 Rock Prairie Road, College Station, Texas •St. Joseph’s Hospital: (979) 776-3777, 2801 Franciscan Drive, Bryan, Texas •For more resources visit: http://studentlife.

The Battalion, April 16, 2018  
The Battalion, April 16, 2018