Women's Resource Center discusses sexual assault

The Women’s Resource Center hosted a discussion called “Let’s Be Honest” in room 300 of the Student Center, March 19.

The discussion was about how to have healthy friendships, partnerships and relationships and was hosted in association with Planned Parenthood and La Casa sexual assault/domestic violence center. It was set up by Jessica Dailey from EMU’s Women’s Resource Center.

“I think that the biggest thing is that you have options, even if you feel trapped because you're living on campus, you can come to the women's center, there's CAPS and even Safe House,” Dailey said. “There's options. Any amount of abuse is not ok. [Either if] it's emotional or physical, you don't have to tolerate abuse.”

The night started with a pair of skits exemplifying certain situations of abuse. Abuse isn't limited to actual physical violence. Mind games, drug and alcohol use and controlling or manipulative behavior can all be forms of abuse.

According to Kayla Dillon, the youth prevention educator at La Casa, after consuming alcohol, consent can no longer be given.

La Casa is a women’s resource center in Livingston County.

“When does love become abuse?” Dillon asked. “When does a healthy relationship become an unhealthy relationship? When does affection become obsession, talking become stalking?”

The night was also about breaking stereotypes and myths and clarifying reality. “I guess so,” or only saying yes after a lot of coercion, can be considered sexual assault.

Rarely does sexual assault happen between strangers. The majority of sexual assaults happen between people who have known each other for a long time.

“In a relationship we always hear the stereotype of a woman getting pregnant in order to keep a man in a relationship,” said Lauren Bacans of Planned Parenthood. “Often the opposite is true, and the best way to get someone pregnant is to mess with their birth control. It's really easy to cut a hole in the condom. It’s really easy to take someone’s NuvaRing out of the fridge.”

Women in abusive relationships are often talked out of terminating pregnancies in order for the abuser to keep them under their control. In Michigan it is illegal to coerce someone to have an abortion but not out of it. There are also cases of the abusive partner threatening to leave them if they do not have a child.

Preventative measures exist too. If you are at a party, do not let your drink out of your sight for any length of time. Bring your own beverage and watch out for your friends. Drug detecting strips exist and can be purchased online to show if drugs have been slipped into a drink.

According to Dillon, when someone is sexually assaulted, they are often blamed for the assault. If someone you know tells you they have been a victim of sexual assault, often you’re the first person they’re telling. In that situation, Dillon has four phrases she says to victims:

“It’s not your fault.”

“I believe you.”

“Nothing you can say will ever change the way I feel about you.”

“Do you want to report it?”

Sometimes victims do not report assault. In that situation, Dillon and Bacans said it is important not to make them. The victim has already had their control taken away from them, doing it again – even with good intentions – can do more harm than good.

La Casa is a shelter for battered women and sexual assault in Livingston County. Safe House is its Washtenaw County equivalent. The closest Planned Parenthood to EMU is in Ann Arbor.

One of the options available on campus is Counseling and Psychological Services. It is free for all EMU students in the Snow Health Center and is confidential.

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