Let’s Talk About It

rigo imageBy Rodrigo Vazquez

Many college students experience some form of sexual assault with the vast majority suffering in silence. While largely unknown, The Rape Crisis Center, located at the College of Southern Nevada’s Charleston campus, is a symbol of hope for many.

The Center’s motto for April, otherwise known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, is “Let’s talk about it”.

“One in eight women gets breast cancer and you have this huge pink campaign, which is powerful and wonderful,” says Tracey Long, nursing instructor at CSN. “But according to national statistics, one in four women is a victim of sexual assault, yet no one seems to talk about it. We need powerful and effective campaigns and policies against sexual violence.”

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, 20 to 25 percent of women have experienced either attempted or actual rape. Of these, less than 5 percent of the cases are reported. The study states that women don’t come forward because they fear police hostility or disbelief. Even more alarming is the fact that many victims don’t come forward because they feel responsible. Approximately 90 percent of sexual assaults are committed by people the victims know. That makes it harder to report.

Through the use of advocacy and therapy, The Rape Crisis Center is able to help victims heal from the traumatic wounds inflicted by sexual assault.

Victims should utilize the Center’s services on their own terms, says Daniele Dreitzer, executive director of The Rape Crisis Center. Services are offered to any victim of sexual violence, whether it happened recently or in the past.

One of the many services it offers is crisis response: a 24-hour hotline that handles calls from women who need immediate assistance. One of the first steps is to go to University Medical Center. UMC is the only hospital in the Valley to possess a sexual assault nurse examiner.

The Center provides help with transportation, clothing and legal assistance. On Tuesday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. a group counseling session is held for survivors of sexual abuse or assault. It is free of charge to anyone.

Its staff also offers group therapy sessions, providing counseling and support for victims and their families. Along with the confidential support groups there is counseling for victims who are not ready to talk about the attacks they endured.

“Many times the victims will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is guilt. The victim feels responsible for the act,” says psychology Professor Paul Herrle, who teaches human sexuality at CSN. Herrle says that women are never responsible for the attacks.

“Rape is a sex crime; it is a hate crime,” Herrle says.

The Rape Crisis Center is located at 6375 W. Charleston Blvd., Building B, Room 149. The 24-hour hotline is (888) 366-1640. More information can be found at www.therapecrisiscenter.orgRigo

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