Women’s Resource Center highlights assault awareness

Emily Nordquist

The Women’s Resource Center has been highlighting April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month by sponsoring events relating to different forms of abuse and their prevention.

Eta Sigma Gamma, in conjunction with the WRC and the department of Modern and Classical Language, will advocate assault prevention through a free self-defense class today. The class is open to all Kent State students, staff and faculty, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center in seminar rooms A and B.

The WRC’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month began with an information table and a workshop from the Ohio Domestic Violence Network in the Student Center.

The “Recognizing and Addressing Violence Against Disabled Women” workshop discussed violence and disability issues by giving an overview of certain disabilities and their risk and vulnerability factors. The event was facilitated by Tonia Moultry, outreach coordinator of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

“This is a very important issue that not many people consider,” said Hilda Pettit, coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center. “Women who are disabled and abused often cannot just get up and walk away from their abusers.”

One of the main goals of the Women’s Resource Center this month is to make students aware of how often any form of abuse can occur in relationships. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, approximately 70 percent of adult female rape victims know their abusers. Also, in 2003, it is estimated that only one-third of all rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement authorities. Pettit suggests one of the factors behind this is because the abuser is a partner in a relationship.

“In a relationship, rapes and abuse are not reported because of the difficult nature of the situation,” Pettit said. “Also, when people hear domestic violence they think of extreme situations with permanent relationships. They don’t consider their relationship on the level of domestic abuse. That is why the new buzzword is ‘intimate partner violence.'”

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control defines intimate partner violence as “physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.”

According to the Education Training Research Associates, some of the characteristics demonstrated by the abuser are a need to maintain control in all situations, a disregard for the feelings and emotions of others and a tendency to confuse or frighten their partner. Warning signs which should be observed in the abused are difficulty to see or admit their problems, a loss of confidence and a low self-image.

“If you have an unhealthy self-image, you aren’t going to be able to love and respect yourself the way you should,” said Erin Jaeger, senior nursing major and Kent Student Center Programming event supervisor. “When people don’t love themselves, it is easy to see why they get into abusive relationships.”

The KSC Programming staff has used April as its Health Awareness Month. Its events cover such topics as STIs, emotionally abusive relationships and body image.

The WRC offers crisis intervention resources for victims of rape or abuse through their Web site, www.kent.edu/administration/hr/wrc or their toll free number, 1-866-339-3699. All of their services are free.

Contact student life reporter Emily Nordquist at [email protected]