Furman is a safe campus and most students don’t consider issues like sexual assault or dating violence.
However, in a Tuesday lecture titled “Stand up and Speak” Jenna Vee Church from the Julie Valentine Center encouraged the audience of 160 sorority women in Burgiss Theatre to reflect on the sobering facts of sexual assault and dating violence and take steps towards prevention.
The Julie Valentine Center, located off of White Horse Road, “works to stop sexual violence and child abuse” while “engag[ing] survivors in the healing process through compassionate, comprehensive, treatment.” The center also seeks to educate the community about these issues through various outreach programs.
In her lecture, Church illustrated scenarios of sexual abuse including a recent instance in 2012 in Steubenville, Ohio in which a high school girl was sexually abused by members of her high school’s football team. In another instance, a high school girl’s older boyfriend gradually isolated her from her family and friends, took away her license, and required her to check in with him at various times throughout the day. Church said she met the girl in the emergency room after her boyfriend had sexually abused her.
After telling these true stories, Church emphasized the traumatic impact the events have on the victims. “This is something they have to deal with for a lifetime,” she stressed adding that victims sometimes turn to self-harm.
“The number one barrier that victims face when recovering from sexual assault is the blame that they put on themselves,” Church said adding that many victims don’t report sexual assaults because they thought that it was their fault and had they acted, dressed, or done something differently, it could have been prevented.
Church encouraged students to “always trust your instinct.” Additionally, Church advised the audience to have a buddy system with friends at parties and to always be firm. Having control over the situation and knowing boundaries will help students to avoid undesirable situations.
The lecture was sponsored by Alpha Delta Pi and Kappa Delta sororities as part of Panhellenic’s “Be Bold” month which seeks to promote strength and confidence in sorority women on campus.
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