When is enough really enough
By / Caitlyn Stair and Rebekka Fifield
Gender norms in the United States are established at birth. Baby girls are swaddled in pink and baby boys are swaddled in blue. Those wells established gender norms present a myriad of problems for women; problems that often lead to sexual violence.
According to research, one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
Greater awareness of sexual assault has created more services and outreach programs for victims. As the years go by and times change, women specifically have been voicing the abuse they have gone through and many are ready to start fighting back.
After #MeToo more women feel empowered to speak out and make a difference.
SUNY Brockport social work majors Kina Bradseth and Taylor Thomas are working to make a difference.
The two have been researching sexual assault and sexual violence and its impact on women throughout their college careers.
“I think a lot of times, women can be in the situation and they feel there’s no way out,” Thomas said. “A lot of times, I think the abuser kind of tries to isolate them off and make it seem like this is their fault. No one cares enough to reach out or help them, stuff like that… not everybody knows [resources] exist or at least knows where they can go to get the services… women either there, they’re too scared to come forward, or they just don’t know how.”
According to Rainn: The Criminal Justice System Statistics, out of 1000 sexual assaults, 975 perpetrators will walk free. Only 310 cases are reported to the police and out of those only 50 reports lead to an arrest. 28 cases will lead to a felony charge and 25 perpetrators will be incarcerated. Whether it’s due to lack of evidence in prosecution, faulty investigations or lack of self-reporting, it’s common for those who commit violent sexual crimes to get away with it.
Title IX on campus:
SUNY Brockport, as well as every other SUNY school has the Title IX policy. Title IX is a federal law that was passed 50 years ago — prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. SUNY Brockport’s Title IX coordinator is Denine Carr.
Carr works for the school not for the police department. So when complaints are brought to her, she does not have the ability to reprimand the student accused, she just makes sure that the process is fair and equal for both sides.
“I’m not an advocate, it’s my job to ensure due process. I make sure it is a fair and equitable process for both students-the person who’s made the complaint and the person who’s responding,” Carr said.
When a student does come to her, she is able to provide multiple solutions that could help them immediately such as a “no contact order”.
“I find out if the student wants a no contact order against the other person if they’re a student. It’s not disciplinary, the student who I’m meeting with that has been impacted by the behavior does not have to request that we take any action in order for me to enter a no contact order,” Carr said.
On top of the “no contact order”, Carr is able to help the student if they end up falling behind due to physical, emotional, or psychological abuse.
“If the student is falling behind, because they can’t focus in class, now they can’t get work done. That’s pretty common. We want to make sure the students succeed,” Carr said. “So, in that case, I would reach out to the faculty. It could be one class, three classes, whatever the case may be, to let the faculty or the professor know that the student needs extra help or whatever the case may be. I will let the professor know that I’ve met with the student and maybe I will indicate that they’ve suffered a traumatic event and need an extension.”
Title IX has helped women for 50 years. It has been able to help women obtain equality in academics and in the educational field.
Resource for SUNY Students:
The SUNY System also has a website where an assault victim can go to look for help for response, support and reporting the crime committed against them. SUNY SAVR (Sexual Assault and Violence Response) is there for students who were abused as a result of being a victim of sexual violence. This website offers a list of resources for the survivor to use if they choose to report and use the help.
The ClothesLine Project:
As social work students, Bradsmith and Thomas have seen the reality of how few sexual assault cases are actually reported and how few women seek help for what happened to them. As a result, they created the Clothesline Project as a way to bring awareness and commonality of sexual assault, offering support to women who have experienced violence.
“A big part of this is normalizing the fact this does happen, this isn’t some rare occurrence,” Thomas said. “It’s not someone’s fault because of what they were wearing or what they were drinking or anything like that if they were walking alone. It’s always the person who is committing violence against another individual. There are always going to be people who victim blame, there are always going to be people who are okay with raping and using other people. I don’t think it’s necessarily a thing that anyone can fully stop. But extending that olive branch and beginning to open up a safe space for conversation to be had and even plant a kernel in someone’s mind like ‘It’s not my fault. I’m not lesser because of what happened to me’.”
The Clothesline Project (which takes place Monday, April 18) will have tabling from organizations like Willow and Title IX to help provide information on how to contact them for services, their location and what they do. This will bring their services and education to girls or boys that have experienced violence who haven’t had the encouragement or strength to self-report or seek support right in the middle of campus.
T-shirts will be hung through the bridge that connects to Drake Memorial Library, each representing a different person’s story. There will be an area for students on campus to make their own T-shirts that will tell their story — a more discrete but also powerful way for women to speak out against their abusers.
Although sexual assault is a centuries-old issue, resolutions are beginning to become more apparent to students and community members who have been impacted. For men and women, experiencing sexual assault can be life-altering but resources like Title IX and prevention outreach programs on and off campus give victims a chance to start fresh.