Student volunteers fight rape

GW student Ruthie Vishlitzky said she was tired of complaining about violence against women and chose to take action.

Disturbing statistics about the number of women sexually assaulted prompted Vishlitzky to join a group of GW student volunteers at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center this year.

“I just feel the problem is unbelievably huge,” she said. “The numbers are so high and it’s disgusting. It affects how women act daily, like not going out late by ourselves. It just disables us.”

One in three women will be raped in her lifetime, according to the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Fifty-one percent to 60 percent of college men said they would rape a woman if they were certain they would get away with it, according to The Longest War: Sex Differences in Perspective.

Vishlitzky recently began training at the crisis center and said the rigorous training is worthwhile because she said she feels she is doing something productive.

“The training is hard because you have to think about it all the time and you know (women are) not safe,” Vishlitzky said.

After her training, Vishlitzky will work at the center’s 24-hour hotline and as an on-call companion escort to help victims at local hospitals and police stations, said Amy Mudd, volunteer coordinator at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center.

Mudd said a number of GW students volunteer at the center in different capacities.

“We give people professional training and real-life experience,” she said.

Other students concerned about sexual assault choose to focus their efforts on GW’s campus. Jeff Marootian, co-coordinator of the Student Peer Initiative Resource Intervention Team (SPIRIT), said his group provides programs designed to inform people about sexual assault and how to protect themselves from being raped.

SPIRIT also educates students about the consequences of alcohol consumption, he said. Marootian said many sexual assault cases involve alcohol. According to The Rape Victim, one-third to two-thirds of rapists and half of their victims consume alcohol before a rape.

Marootian said the organization has not changed its plans because of a rape that occurred on campus in late September.

“We haven’t done extra programming but that’s something we take into account,” he said.

Mudd said one rape should not make people notice that sexual assault is a problem because she said rape happens all the time.

Mudd cited a report from the majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee that said 84 percent of rapes go unreported.

“Every once in a while something happens to make us pay attention,” she said. “But we can make a difference all the time.”

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