Sexual assault workshop addresses violence against women

Rafael Cornejo

Men can help in the fight against violence and sexual assault toward women.

This was the message stressed by a Valley Trauma Center prevention educators at a sexual assault workshop on Tuesday at CSUN’s Women’s Center.

“Rape doesn’t stop without non-violent men stepping in,” said prevention educator Jae Weiss, who was filling in for Peggie Rayna, the project director of Peace Over Violence. Rayna was busy lobbying for the Peace Over Violence cause in Sacramento.

Aggression toward women is perpetuated by severely limiting appropriate male responses through what could be characterized as “macho” socialization, she said.

“The reality in all of our lives is that the predators out there hurt us all,” she said.

The Valley Trauma Center’s bilingual prevention education specialist, Janett Cardiel was also on hand to emphasize the different norms men and women encounter and are expected to adhere to, lest they be ostracized.

“We live in a dichotomy where guys are supposed to have sex and girls are not supposed to give it up,” Cardiel said.

The paradigm of masculinity must be changed for progress to happen, Weiss added.

It is important to offer prevention methods, she said, yet responsibility cannot be shifted to the victim.

The most common time for someone to be sexually assaulted is during their college years, more specifically in their first semester, Weiss said.

“It is important to create awareness about sexual assault among college students because a lot of students are not familiar with it,” said Ayu Nishikawa, assistant director of the Women’s Center.

Weiss cautioned that although there is nothing an individual can do that justifies sexual assault, certain behavior, such as drug use and alcohol consumption, can cause an individual to become more vulnerable to a person inclined to predatory behavior.

“There’s nothing that someone does or doesn’t do or wears or takes or swallows or drinks that ever justifies sexual assault,” Weiss said.

One way victims are being assaulted is by date rape drugs such as Rohypnol, Weiss said.

“You may even appear to be sexually aggressive because you’re out there feeling great. You may appear to be fully awake and participatory but you’re in fact unconscious,” Weiss said.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Web site “Rohypnol causes anterograde amnesia,” which is then defined as “the inability to remember any new information from the point when the drug takes effect.”

Weiss continued: “It has also created a new kind of assailant because it takes less guts to assault someone who is unconscious or not conscious of their actions. So people who might not have been a rapist or a sexual assailant under other circumstances” might be so in this situation.

“The period of time that drug stays in your system is so short that unless they do a test within approximately 12 hours” to determine if it is present, the evidence will be lost, Weiss said.

One in four women and one in six men will have been assaulted by their 18th birthday, Weiss said.

In fact, of all the survivors treated at the Valley Trauma Center, “over a third are children under the age of five.”

As with date rape cases, the sexual assault of a child is difficult to prosecute for the lack and/or pliability of the child’s memory, Weiss said, as well as the silence assailants elicit from the child for fear of reprisal.

The Valley Trauma Center will be hosting, Would You walk a Mile In Her Shoes?, a men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence in which men walk a mile wearing high heels down Ventura Boulevard on April 28.