Realities of sexual assault

The sexual assault claims that have come out recently have rocked Hollywood and many people’s perspectives of American society. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. are just some of the celebrities that have been outed for sexual assault. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that one in every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

“It’s disturbing, but not surprising,” said psychology major, Clayborne Go. “Certain people in power can tend to abuse their authority.”

Marketing student, Amr Shomali thinks it’s good that people are coming out about the issue, “It’s not talked about in public, so I’m glad there is support for the cause.”

Some feel that the negative reaction to reporting sexual assault has kept people from coming forward.

“People who experience (sexual assault) may tend not to make a complaint because they are afraid of victim-shaming,” said Paulette von Giese, a biotechnology major.

“They could be ignored,” said respiratory major, Jenina Lavilla.

Nursing student Hazel MacDonald said that reporting the sexual assault could backfire, “They could say, ‘You’re a liar. It was your fault.’”

When it comes to reporting sexual assault on campus, the process is easy.

“It’s not difficult at all,” said Public Safety Captain Jim Vangele. “It’s streamlined, simple, and straightforward.”

If students are sexually assaulted, they can go to Public Safety, the police, or the VP of student services.

Vangele said students could also report anything where they felt there were, “threats of force or intimidation or a more serious event.”

When it comes to what should be reported, Vangele said that while sexual assaults should always be reported, how a person decides to deal with certain kinds of touching, like a hand on their shoulder, is up to them.

“Some may construe it as accidental while others may find it inappropriate,” Vangele said.

Vangele doesn’t want students to feel incapable of handling these sorts of issues on their own, but says, “It depends on what they feel comfortable doing. (Students) can report anything anytime if they want to, but they don’t have to.”

RAINN found that among undergraduate students, almost one in four females (23.1 percent) experienced rape or sexual assault. “That could have been one of us,” said McDonald as she looked at her three other friends.

McDonald said she had never felt unsafe on campus but that she is, “always on the lookout because you never know what someone’s intention could be”.

Public Safety officers at Skyline College go through sensitivity training about every one to three years in order to delicately handle issues like sexual assault. He says that many of the public safety officers were prior law enforcement officers who’ve had sensitivity training in their previous jobs.

Vangele said he has seen a change in the sensitivity training that the officers have received over the last few years, “There’s a lot more concern for victims, how they feel, how questions are phrased.”

Skyline offers support to sexual assault victims through their Health Services Center. “We offer free confidential counseling to all currently enrolled students,” said counselor Beverly Muse in an email interview.

Other resources they connect the student with include: the Rape Trauma Center, the Keller Center for Sexual Assault at San Mateo Medical center, and law enforcement. They also provide online resources and crisis phone numbers on their website if a student doesn’t want to physically go in to the Health Services Center.

Psychological Services counselors at the Health Services Center are not mandated to report any sexual assault to the Skyline College Title IX officer. However, there are exceptions if the student is a minor, dependent adult, or an elder.

If you want to report a sexual assault, you can contact:

Skyline’s Title IX officer, Dr. Angelica Garcia, Vice President of Student Services

At (650) 738-4333

Skyline’s Public Safety hotline (available 24/7)

At (650) 738- 4199

San Bruno Police Department

At (650) 616-7100