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Sexual assault presentation reveals complexities of consent

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By DaMarkus James

da.james@colostate-pueblo.edu

The “Making Sense of Consent” presentation held Wednesday at CSU-Pueblo’s Occhiato University Center covered details about consent and sexual assault.

About 20 students from Jacqueline Stroud’s women’s studies class attended the presentation which was open to everyone.

In order for people to give their consent to engage in sexual activity, they must pursue the act intentionally, said Michelle Kratz, community liaison and case manager for Pueblo Rape Crisis Services.

“For somebody to consent, they have to be excited about saying ‘yes.’ It has to be very willing,” she said.

Photo courtesy of victimempowermentsa.wordpress.com.

However, there are people who doubt themselves and their actions if they engage in sexual activity, she said. Kratz conducts presentations of this nature at schools because children in school and college students tend to be involved in sexual assault, she said, and she informs students about the rise in sexual assaults.

“I like to try to educate the community, especially in the schools,” Kratz said. “I think there are a lot of myths about sexual assault.”

Sexual assault is the essence of rape because they are similar in terminology and they both involve sexual penetration, she said.

“In Colorado, those two are one in the same,” Kratz said.

Unlawful sexual contact is another term that is considered sexual assault, however it does not include sexual penetration, she said.

“It can be touching in a sexual nature of any kind that’s unwanted,” Kratz said.

Victims have contacted Kratz and informed her they possibly consented sexually, but they felt uncomfortable with their actions, she said.

“Personally, with the victims that I spoken to, they knew that they weren’t really comfortable with what they were doing,” she said.

The PRCS works closely with Parkview Medical Center as another resource for victims, Kratz said. Parkview conducts an exam that checks on victims’ health and finds evidence of sexual assault, called a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The exam can be taken within 72 hours of being sexually assaulted, she said.

Kratz encourages victims to stay in contact with their families and PRCS, she said. She conducts presentations to keep people of the community informed and get their moral support, Kratz said.

Victims who experience sexual assault could experience signs of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, Kratz said. However, victims can seek moral support and professional help from therapists to maintain healthier lives.

“It’s very important to get help and support from people you trust,” she said.

Elizabeth Woods, a junior majoring in psychology and social work, said the presentation and the facts were informative. She felt surprised about the rise sexual assaults on college universities, she said.

Two of her friends that are CSU-Pueblo students experienced sexual assault, Woods said, and that is why she attended the presentation.

Sexual assault statistics Kratz stated in the presentation:

• Nearly 50 percent of victims don’t realize they were assaulted
• More than 50 percent of assaults are associated with alcohol consumption
• More than 80 percent of attackers are an acquaintance
• 78 forcible rapes every hour are of women older than 18 years old
• 66 percent of rapes involve alcohol and/or drugs
• 56 percent of girls and 76 percent of boys believe forced sex is acceptable
• 57 percent of rapes happen on dates
• College students are 4 times more likely to be assaulted
• About 20 percent of victims are men
• 5 percent of college students report of being assaulted
• Less than 30 percent of victims report of being assaulted