How to prevent and take action against physical sexual assault and stay safe were the main focuses of the Prevention, Awareness, Treatment and Healthy Habits series Wednesday night in the Bovee University Center.
Presenters Dr. Natalie DeNooyer Kroll and Dr. Sandeep Rao, who receive patients for obstetric and gynecology needs in Midland and Mount Pleasant, said one of the first things students can do to prevent assaults is to shed light on the issue.
“I think the biggest key to trying to help prevent (physical and sexual assualt) is making it something that’s known and knowing that it’s not acceptable,” Kroll said. “And that speaking out, though it may be not popular, it’s the right thing to do, and it may make a difference for that one person.”
Kroll said students should be active participants and should get involved. She also advised students to recognize the contributing factors of sexual assaults.
“Certainly alcohol; it’s the biggest (contributor),” she said. “The other contributing factors being in situations where you don’t know people, you’re not with friends, you don’t have a cell phone; you don’t have any connections to people that might be able to help out.”
Rao said another thing students should understand is that they have the power to say “no.”
“The importance of saying ‘no’ does not necessarily mean saying the word ‘no,’” Rao said. “It’s more so of having that empowerment of knowing who they are and knowing what kind of situation they’re in and where they want to be. If they’re uncomfortable, it’s easy to give in to pressure … I just want them to know that they don’t have to give in. They themselves have their own voice, their own identity, and if they don’t want to be there, they can say ‘no,’ and that’s totally fine.”
Rao said students should know the vulnerabilities of human beings. Rao said kicking someone once in the shin will not make a major impact, but kicking them three or four times in the shin will give them the opportunity to hurt the perpetrator and escape.
“Just knowing the vulnerabilities of the human being is very important because that gives you knowledge,” Rao said. “And with knowledge, you have a little bit of power, and, with power, you have the ability to get out of any situation.”
Ypsilanti junior Krista Huff, who attended the PATH event, said learning how to escape dangerous situations is very useful.
“A lot of people brush things like that under the table, but it’s actually a very common thing,” Huff said. “The whole self-defense thing was very interesting, and I think that was one of the things I’ll remember most–what kind of physical things I can do to get out of a situation.”
Health educator Lori Wangberg, who works with the PATH series, said she think it’s important to have conversations about how to remain out of harm’s way.
“These sessions are driven to have those conversations, so that students have opportunities to attend things like this to be able to learn the techniques and information on how to stay healthy and safe,” Wangberg said.