Speaker addresses sexual violence

The UNA Women’s Center recently hosted “Male Survivors of Sexual Violence,” a speaking event with Kathleen Connolly, executive director of Rape Response, Sept. 5. Connolly’s concerns, while focused on helping rape victims, embrace integration of men into this controversial movement.

“We all get things stuck in our head as a society,” Connolly said. “This is not just a women’s issue.”

The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that males are victims in 10 percent of annual rape cases, not including those that go unreported. Males are less likely to report their rape than women, who report more than half of crimes, according to RAINN’s website.

“Men are sent the image that this is a female issue, along with breast cancer awareness,” Connolly said. “They’re exposed to slogans about ‘ta-tas’ and ‘boobies;’ it’s embarrassing for them, so they’re vastly under-informed on precautions, treatment and medical customs.”

Connolly addressed the large proportion of rapists being male.

“Ninety-eight percent of rapists are male, but 98 percent of men aren’t rapists,” she said. “I think it is totally appropriate that we develop policies that take into consideration that some women are experiencing fear of men post-rape; however, I think we should also be working toward integrating men into anti-sexual violence activities, such as presenting programs, mentoring and becoming victim advocates.”

People often reduce the weight that words like “rape” carry, Connolly said.

“Sometimes the way people say things is more important than what they’re actually talking about,” Connolly said. “If we make fun of the subject of rape, we’re minimizing the meaning. Similarly, the incarcerated are paying the price for the crimes they committed, but rape is not part of their sentence.”

Connolly’s recent endeavors led her to a convention where she was informed that one in 10 prisoners is raped or sexually abused.

“I don’t believe in the ‘eye for an eye’ statements,” said Coordinator for Women’s Studies Emily Kelley. “If we expect prisoners to be exposed to the travesties they’ve been put away for, then we’re no better than the perpetrators themselves. We can’t accept that in our society.”

Some students are integrating themselves into the rape awareness movement. Phi Beta Sigma fraternity has plans to pursue the 1 in 4 Program, which involves men who are attempting to reduce the statistics of rape and domestic violence. Campus residence halls are hoping to host talks to inform the community, officials said.

“Our biggest goal should be to drop the taboo,” Kelley said. “Ignorance doesn’t solve the problems people are facing, (but) rather trivializes it. We must become a society that educates each other and integrates, because segregation can only lead to one thing: stereotype.”