By Claire Golec, Staff Writer
The Rape Crisis Center of Savannah reports that only 32 percent of college students report violence by a dating partner, and approximately 90 percent of the victims know their attacker. Dating abuse isn’t simply about your partner’s annoying habits; it’s the physical, sexual, emotional and/or verbal abuse.
The reality is that dating violence is a crucial topic that continues to be wrongly silenced. On April 2, Armstrong’s CUB replaced the silence with action when it held “You the Man.”
“You the Man” is a one-man show which portrays five different characters tackling abusive scenarios. The event was held in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAMM) and incorporated a play and panel. The panel included Helen Schandolph, Armstrong counselor, and Kesha Gibson, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center in Savannah.
According to Gibson, dating abuse may range from verbal insults to rape. These abusive behaviors are all too common, especially on college campuses. Your sister, friend or even brother may have been a victim of one of these violent and wrongful acts. Gibson believes that we need to create a more proactive society in order to heighten the awareness.
“What you have to do at Armstrong State University is you have to create a culture where by it is known we stand up, we stand out, and we speak out against sexual assault,” Gibson said.
According to Gibson, dating abuse patterns include depression, behavior variations, unexplainable bruises and increased isolation.
Taking action and intervening within someone else’s relationship can be complicated and even dangerous. Gibson advises concerned bystanders to discuss the issue with a trained counselor, talk to the victim’s parents or acknowledge your concern to the victim. Schandolph says that support is vital in situations like these.
“Sometimes just giving them permission to accept that they’re not OK. Sometimes they need the legitimacy of a friend recognizing that they’re acting differently because sometimes they don’t even know it,” Schandolph said.
Granted, taking action is easier than it sounds. Sometimes when put in situations beyond our control, we can react differently, but Gibson says that it’s important to remember that it’s never the fault of the victim.
“Only second to murder, [rape is] a horrific experience for an individual and you live with it for your entire life…Rape is never the fault of the victim, rape is a fault of the rapist. What a woman wears or not wears or what a woman drinks or how much is never her fault. That’s the bottom line,” Gibson said.
The play was held in Ogeechee Theatre with about 15 guests in attendance, both fellow Armstrong students and staff. The event was organized by Interim Assistant Director for Student Life Kara Simmons and was co-hosted by the College of Health Professions.
For Brittney Pegram, sophomore mathematics major, this event was an educational experience.
“I learned that there’s many different types of assaults. There’s not just bruising, but there is verbal assaults and there’s many different ways people deal with it,” Pegram said.
If you or someone you know is a victim of dating abuse, sexual assault and/or rape, you can contact the Rape Crisis Center at (912) 233-7273 or at rccsav.org. The Armstrong Counseling Center is completely confidential. Their number is (912) 344-2529.
The Rape Crisis Center will hold Take Back the Night, an event that campaigns against sexual violence, at Forsyth Park on April 16.