DATE project takes on acquaintance rape

Daily Sundial

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A new program led by students and staff members will work to educate students about rape, specifically acquaintance rape, and develop plans for on-campus awareness.

The Discovering Alternatives for Today’s Encounters project is a date/acquaintance rape prevention program sponsored by the University Counseling Services and the Valley Trauma Center.

Peer Educators for the DATE Project make classroom presentations that are designed to educate students of the psychological and cultural issues related to rape, inform students of the legal and medical issues related to rape and develop awareness of the issue of rape and ways to prevent it.

The program is not just for women, organizers said.

The ideal goal is for men and women to join the group, and go out and educate together, according to Yolanda Noack, license clinical social worker and counselor for University Counseling Services.

“Rape isn’t just a woman’s issue. Rape affects everyone,” Noack said.

Men are also affected by rape because they have mothers, sisters and girlfriends, she said.

According to a December 2000 report from United States Department of Justice, “90 percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant.”

Victims are more likely assaulted by someone they are acquainted with, such as a friend; ex-boyfriend; date; relative; or employer.

Stephanie Herrick, senior sociology major, said people need to be aware when reading statistics because there are a large number of unreported rape cases.

It is estimated that less than 5 percent of college women who were victims of rape report it to the police, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In many cases, victims do not report rape to the police because they are embarrassed and often blame themselves for the act, said Linda Zuchegna, a prevention educator specialist with Valley Trauma Center.

“Rape is the only crime where (people) look at the victims past to determine whether or not they were somehow responsible for being a victim,” Zuchegna said.

A bill currently in the California Legislature could require the CSU and UC system and California community colleges to work in collaboration with campus and community-based victim advocacy organizations to provide educational and preventive information about sexual violence to all incoming students during student orientation.

The bill also states that campuses without available orientation programs are required to post educational and precautionary information about sexual violence for all incoming students on their websites.

Incoming freshmen women are most vulnerable during the first six weeks of college, Zuchegna said. Freshmen women are more often at risk because men know they are susceptible, and they try to get them in a vulnerable position, she said.

Valencia Bankston can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.