Soup and Substance discusses sexual assault, advocacy to encourage recovery, reporting

While students may brag or blush about their sexual exploits, studies have shown that sexual assaults regularly go unreported on campuses like Central Michigan University's.

Sexual assault is a common occurrence on similarly sized campuses and it can happen up to three times a day, or 25 times a week, according to Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates. More often than not, survivors do not report their assaults and crimes go unsolved.

SAPA presented a Soup and Substance panel discussion on sexual assault and topics dealing with the LGBTQ community on Monday afternoon in the Bovee University Center’s terrace rooms. The event was part of Pride Week and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“No one in a room of their peers wants to share their best sexual experience,” said SAPA advocate and Florida junior Rich Bronson. “Why would we expect people to share (in a sexual assault report) one of the worst things that could happen to them over and over and over again?”

During the four-person panel discussion, issues were raised, scenarios played out and messages spread on how males and females can be victims and perpetrators and how sexual assault is defined.

Shannon Jolliff, director of Gay and Lesbian Programs, said being a lesbian does not exclude one from sexual assault.

“I hope that they walked away with an understanding that sexual assault is not specific to a gender,” Jolliff said. “People sometimes put themselves in a bubble saying, ‘I am safe and this will never happen to me,’ but it can happen to anybody."

Megan Stowell, SAPA member and St. Claire Shores sophomore, said there are not a lot of statistics regarding LGBTQ sexual aggression. The statistics available shows there are higher assault rates and lower report rates than with heterosexual assaults.

“One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes,” Stowell said. “That is 25 percent and that is crazy.”

Stowell added that one in three women who identify themselves as lesbians will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

“That is so scary to me,” she said. “When you look at transgender, one in two will be sexually assaulted. That is half. That is not acceptable."

One in seven men will be sexually assaulted, she said, which tends to surprise people.

St. Louis junior Jessica Hutchinson attended the event and said it is good to know the statistics.

“I’ve had friends who have been in SAPA since it existed and I like where it is at right now,” Hutchinson said. “It is good to hear those alarming statistics and it is probably more helpful than people realize"