The GW Counseling Center’s Lori Lefcourt said sexual assault is a “difficult topic” that people do not like to recognize or even report when she addressed an all-female audience Tuesday in the Strong Hall piano lounge.
Lefcourt was joined by fellow Counseling Center representatives Laurie Moret and Kathy Karageorge. The event was sponsored by GW’s Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Moret’s statistics, compiled from FBI studies of colleges nationwide, were presented to the audience in quiz format and proved many students do not know much about sex crimes.
“Only one in 25 rapes are reported to the police,” Moret said. She also said more than 75 percent of all rapes are planned in advance and 70 percent to 80 percent of sexual assault victims know their aggressors.
Students were asked to decipher myths and misconceptions about sexual assault as part of the test. Myths that suggested women lie about being raped, only certain types of people commit rape and women in risqu? clothing are more likely to be attacked were all dispelled by the counselors.
“Sexual assault is the ultimate act of power and control over a woman,” Moret said. “When a 90-year-old woman gets raped, it’s not a matter of the clothes she is wearing.”
The District’s Anti-Sexual Abuse Act of 1994 also was discussed, and Lefcourt outlined the four degrees of sexual assault mentioned in the act. The degrees range from first degree, which involves an unwelcome sexual act, to fourth degree, which involves any forced sexual contact.
A good friend also is needed by all who experience such trauma, and Karageorge talked with the audience about how a friend can both help and hinder victims.
Listening to victims, convincing them that it is not their fault and asking them how they can be helped are positive and sensitive approaches to their pain, she said. Karageorge also said asking for unnecessary details, doubting victims and imposing values on them are negative ways to handle such a sensitive situation.
For further assistance, the counselors said victims can contact the University Police Department, community facilitators and the 24-hour sexual assault team. Lefcourt said local hospitals can help victims of sexual assault as well.
“It’s also essential that they get medical treatment immediately,” she said.
Although Tuesday’s audience was entirely female, the counselors said sexual assault education also is administered to males on the GW campus.
“We have sexual communication workshops for both fraternities and sororities,” Lefcourt said. “Men need to be educated as much as women.”