On Friday, Feb. 15, the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs sponsored One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end violence against women. Approximately 20 women and some men gathered in the Sunnen Lounge to listen to educators speak about physical and emotional abuse, stalking and sexual harassment.
According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), one in three women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime around the world. One Billion Rising represents women who have been beaten or raped.
Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” founded One Billion Rising. The campaign was designed to empower victims of sexual abuse to speak up.
Gladys Smith, assistant director of counseling and advocate for victims of sexual assault at Webster, spoke about the silence sexual victims often endure. Smith said it is important for people who may be victims of sexual or emotional assault to listen to their instincts and “rise.”
“Whenever you get that gut feeling, it’s telling you something.” Smith said, “But too many times we’re like, ‘Oh no, it’ll be all right,’ or ‘Oh, it’s embarrassing.’”
Smith said many of the students she’s counseled have experienced some form of sexual or emotional abuse over a long period of time, but have been too afraid or unsure to seek help.
Breanna Ehlen, a peer educator from counseling and life development, was at the One Billion Rising event. Ehlen offered students an alternative to traditional counseling.
“We’re here to help students who are having difficulties, whether it be emotional or just stress,” Ehlen said. “If they don’t necessarily want to go to an adult and they want a more comfortable setting to discuss their problems, we’re here to help.”
Liza Schultheis and Scott Patterson from the Public Safety Office demonstrated lessons from their Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D) course at the event.
According to Schultheis, there are four key aspects involved in keeping yourself safe:
If avoiding a risk isn’t possible, Schultheis and Patterson said a choice must be made — fight, or flight. If neither options work, it is imperative that the victim informs Public Safety of the assault.