Sexual Assault can be a sensitive topic to discuss, but it is essential for students to know what sexual assault is. It is also essential for people to be aware of their options if they are a victim of a sexual assault, they know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, or what to do if they witness a stranger being sexually assaulted.
On Wednesday, Sept. 25, Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) hosted their annual Sexual Assault Response Panel. The event took place from 6-8 p.m. in the Governor’s room, located in the Overman Student Center.
SVP has made it their mission to make PSU a campus where sexual violence is not tolerated, and for students to know that they have the power to speak up. In order to make progress in their mission, students, faculty, and staff need to be taught exactly what sexual assault is and actions they should take after sexual violence has occurred.
“My job is to reach all sorts of people, educate and bring awareness to these light-minded topics,” said Stephanie Spitz, Campus Victim Advocate.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one in five college females, and one in 16 college males, will be a victim of sexual assault during their college career. In society today, there are many resources, including a support group at PSU, that are there to support students.
“You (students) have support in this community, through medical, law enforcement, and Safehouse Crisis Center,” said Rebecca Lynch, Lieutenant Detective at Pittsburg Police Department.
The topic of sexual assault can be complicated or hard to discuss, which is why the panel was formed as a question and answer based event, where all the questions were submitted anonymously and then answered by the panel board.
The Pitt State Police Department, as well as local law enforcement, and the Student Health Center will support and listen to students with anything they would like to voice to them. Another resource that is popularly utilized on campus with sexual assault cases, is Title IX, which was created to examine allegations of any gender-based harm, including sexual assault and sexual violence.
“We believe that it is a fair opportunity for both parties to tell their side,” said Jason Kegler, student life assistant vice president.
Reporting an act of sexual violence is a thorough process and it begins with the victim building up courage and reaching out for help whether that be the police, Safehouse Crisis Center, or Spitz.
“I can be that emotional support person, and walk through that with you, so you won’t have to go through that alone,” Spitz said. “It’s a hard process, it’s worth it, but knowing you’re not alone, and that I am here to help.”
SVP hosted this event to bring awareness to sexual assault, and to let students, faculty and staff know that they are not alone when it comes to sexual harassment and violence. Students have a strong support system that will help them throughout every step of their journey.