Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) kicked off at SJC Long Island April 2 in the Muriel and Virginia Pless Center for Performing Arts with national speaker Elaine Pasqua sharing her survivor’s experience and perspective during an interactive program focused on violence prevention, bystander intervention and healthy communication.
“All of you can become part of the solution to end sexual assault,” Pasqua said.
This year’s national theme for SAAM is “I Ask,” highlighting the importance of consent in everyday life. Pasqua explained several scenarios revolving around consent:
- If a person is incapacitated, either from alcohol (the number one weapon of an assaulter) or drugs, he or she cannot provide consent.
- Consent can be taken away at any moment.
- Prior consent does not carry over.
- Being in a relationship does not mean automatic consent.
- Kissing does not mean consent.
- Not saying no doesn’t mean someone is saying yes.
“A person should always have control over their own body and what they want for it,” Pasqua said. “The most important thing is consent, and when someone can’t give consent, you need to step in.”
If you’re out or at a party and you see someone who appears to be intoxicated or incapacitated being led off by another person, stand up and step in, Pasqua implored.
“We want to know that our friends have our back,” Pasqua said. “In 80 percent of rape cases, it’s an acquaintance who is the perpetrator. In 90 percent of those cases, alcohol is involved.”
Pasqua told students to look out for the personalities of a perpetrator when they’re at a party. She said to be aware of someone who brags about the number of people they’ve slept with, who invades others’ personal space, and who is jealous and/or controlling, among other characteristics.
Pasqua, who said that 90 percent of perpetrators are men, called for men to become involved in bystander intervention. She encouraged them to be part of the solution and to not be afraid to step in when something looks wrong at a party.
Acknowledging the problem caused by advancements in technology, Pasqua said that cellphones and dating apps have a negative effect on healthy communication when it comes to intimate relationships.
“They take away every form of communication that’s important, like texting instead of actually talking, swiping right instead of verbally showing interest in someone,” Pasqua said of cellphones. “Put down your cellphones. Make eye contact. Get to know someone, and learn to be aware of nonverbal cues.”
Pasqua also encouraged healthy communication between survivors and the people they open up to about their assault.
“It’s so important that we listen with an open heart and an open mind,” she said. “Don’t place any blame on the victims. Then tell them to talk to a professional.”
For a digital copy of the Student Bill of Rights, click here. For a list of St. Joseph’s Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinators, as well as confidential reporting resources at the College, click here.
Upcoming SAAM Events
Wednesday, April 10: Resource Tabling
Common hour in the Student Lounge
Community Partners, Crime Victims Center, Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk and The Retreat, along with the SJC Peer Health Educators, will be tabling to provide informational resources and giveaways!
Thursday, April 11: Bringing in the Bystander
Common hour in room N319
A prevention workshop for establishing a community of responsibility. Participants will learn to identify behaviors of violence; develop empathy for victims; practice safe and appropriate intervention skills; and commit to intervening before, during and after an incident of sexual abuse, relationship violence or stalking occurs. (This is an Evolve program.)
Tuesday, April 16: Documentary Film Screening of ‘The Silence’
3 – 5:30 p.m. at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center in theater II, 199 Chambers Street in New York City
The documentary narrates the 30-year struggle of 15 “comfort women” — former sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II — for recognition and reparation. St. Joseph’s College is co-sponsoring this public BMCC event.
Monday, April 22: Conversation on Masculinity
Common hour in the Muriel and Virginia Pless Center for Performing Arts
Psychologist Patrick Walsh, a victim services social worker at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, will run a program for men on healthy masculinity.