Lecture Discusses Sexual Assault and Steps to Recovery

On Tuesday, April 10, Colgate groups including The Network, Sisters of the Round Table (SORT) and the Wellness Initiative, as well as the Dean of the College hosted a lecture entitled “Healing the Tem-ple Within: Reclaiming Your Life After Sexual Assault” in Love Au-ditorium. The lecture was part of a sequence of events organized in the month of April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

To begin, there was a student-made video in which Colgate stu-dents voiced their opinions on sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV). The Dean of the College Scott Brown also talked about Colgate’s zero tolerance pol-icy. The video set the tone for the three speakers that would follow.

“I think it is very important for people to hear survivor stories because it may help them to get through their own situation and for those who have not experi-enced sexual violence, how to be a good and supportive friend,” student organizer senior Terica Adams said.

The event was organized around Renee DeVesty, a rape survivor who is most known for executive pro-ducing “The Clean Slate Dairies” and her work with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). She told her story with emotion and conviction, stressing the importance of using resources after instances of sexual assault.

“We chose Renee DeVesty as our speaker for this forum because we felt her positive message about how critical the healing process is for sexual assault and IPV survivors and co-survivors, was an element that was missing from our other events,” event coordinator and Of-fice Manager of the Center for Out-reach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE) Colleen Nassimos said.

“She was very empowering. She forced me to think about some of the things we never like to think about,” first-year Kasey O’Malley said. “With-out scaring us, she touched on some of the things people can do after sexual assault. I think that more Colgate stu-dents should become aware of what they have available to them.”

DeVesty brought two speakers with her. One, Jolie Sarantino Mo-ran, was another rape survivor who now works as a psychologist with other sexual assault survivors. The other was a first-year from Syracuse University, Eric McGriff, who par-ticipates in a club called A Men’s Issue, where male students come together to discuss mens’ role in sexual assault and what action they can take to change the existing ste-reotypes and become what he called “power bystanders” and “a new era of men.”

Colgate’s administration wants stu-dents to be aware of the support system that they have access to, such as Colgate’s Counseling Center.

“First and foremost, we want students to know that we have a great support sys-tem on campus should they or someone they love ever be affected by sexual assault or IPV. We have much to do in terms of turning that awareness into action. The goal is always to make this campus that we all love a place where everyone feels safe and valued, and sadly sometimes it takes events like these to teach us that this isn’t always the case. We need to, and can, do better,” Nassimos said.

For something as widespread as sexual assault (one in every four women are sexu-ally assaulted in college), it does not receive the amount of attention that it deserves. The speakers emphasized important steps toward recovery like talking to friends, reaching out to professionals and getting the help and counseling that a traumatic event like sexual assault requires.

“Hopefully this is a first step toward making Colgate a safer place,” Adams said.

Contact Caroline Main at [email protected].