Justin Peligri: Sexual violence is more than a women’s issue

The woman who carries a passionate voice for sexual assault survivors on this campus will step down from her post at the end of the semester.

Deputy Title IX Director Tara Pereira – whom one student called a “guardian angel” – will be sorely missed at GW. The loss hits especially hard in this transition period for the University’s rules and regulations on sexual assault, which Pereira has overseen for the past year and a half.

Pereira’s efforts, along with the work of various sexual violence prevention advocacy groups, have created a heightened awareness of the threats associated with sexual assault on our campus.

An awareness campaign conducted Students Against Sexual Assault has informed students of important statistics, such as the unfortunate fact that an estimated 60 percent of rapes on college campuses happen in the survivor’s residence hall. And under Pereira’s supervision, GW launched Haven, a central website where students, faculty and staff can go to report sexual assaults and find District resources for medical care. Not to mention that in recent months, the statute of limitations was eliminated so that students don’t need to report instances of sexual violence before they are comfortable.

This progress is justified: An estimated one in five women are sexually assaulted during their college years, according to the Department of Education.

But there’s a part of the dialogue that sometimes gets left out. Females aren’t the only victims.

About 10 percent of men report being sexually assaulted, according to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. It’s fair to assume that number is low due to the the stigma – especially among males – in reporting rapes.

So when talking about sexual assaults on campus, here’s something we should all add to our lexicon: For men, the effects of sexual violence can be just as severe. Just check out these pictures, from Project Unbreakable, of male survivors sharing their experiences.

Pereira’s work on this crucial issue will end in a month. We should lead by her example and keep the conversation going.

The writer, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

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