There is no shortage of advocacy against
sexual abuse on the University’s campus. Student-sponsored
events like V-Day and Take Back the Night, as well as University
initiatives such as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness
Center, offer a cushion of support to the numerous students who
fall victim to sexual assault. However, most of these groups have
the image of being very female-oriented. Recognizing that it is
critically important to expand the focus of these programs, not
only because men can be assaulted, but also because their
involvement is necessary to make progress against sex crimes, SAPAC
has rightly expanded its services to include a men’s activism
program.

Angela Cesere

It is important to remember that sexual abuse has no gender
boundaries, and it is not only women who fall prey to violent and
traumatizing acts of sexual abuse. While females endure the
majority of sexual abuse, males still represent 10 percent of all
rape victims. Despite these figures, men are rarely presumed to be
survivors of sexual abuse, and accordingly, are not targeted by
sexual-assault prevention groups and victim aid organizations.

While SAPAC is open to both males and females, until now,
involvement came predominantly from females within the University
community. It is crucial that students understand that
SAPAC’s doors are open to anyone who seeks help, regardless
of age, sexual orientation or gender.

Furthermore, organizations like SAPAC are right to stress the
need for male involvement. While men can be assaulted, the grim
reality is that most abuse is propagated by men against women. By
bringing men into prevention programs, the issue of sexualized
abuse and violence can be targeted more directly. Organizations
like SAPAC continually run workshops designed to prevent such
crimes; drawing men to them will only increase their effectiveness.
The University was clearly on the right track when it forced
students living in residence halls to attend a mandatory
presentation on sexual assault during Welcome Week.

The standard conception of sexual assault — a vulnerable
female being raped by an unknown male — is an unfortunate
simplification of an even more unfortunate reality. Sexual abuse is
an issue that threatens all members of the University community,
not just women. Programs that attempt to address the aftermath of
abuse, and more importantly, prevent abuse, must cross gender lines
and reach out to men. By bringing men and women into the process,
dedicated organizations like SAPAC can wage a more effective fight
against sex crimes.

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