First Annual Sexuality Week Takes Place to Bring Awareness

Published on April 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm


Contributing Writer

A poster exhibit featuring topics like: healthy and unhealthy relationships, dating violence and Take Back the Night, was presented Tuesday in the Standish Room of the EAC. The College Saint Rose held its first annual sexuality week. Throughout the week, events took place on campus for students.

In addition to the poster presentation, the results of a campus survey on abuse and violence was shown. The survey was administered to students over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year. The students were asked to report experiences they had regarding behaviors that constitute harassment, stalking, and sexual assault of others while attending the College. Students also reported their own experiences with those behaviors as well as witnessing these behaviors.

Dr. Michael Bologna, who headed the survey, explains the reasons for conducting this type of evaluation. “We felt we really needed to have an idea of the prevalence of the problems related to interpersonal partner violence,” Bologna said, “as well as bystander responses.”

The survey was completed by 1,159 students, 84.2% female and 15.8% male. Both undergraduates (72%) and graduate students (27.2%) participated in this survey. It was found that both males and females were to report harassment, verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in their current relationship but they were more likely to report abuse in their past relationship than current.

No connection was found in reporting abuse and the usage of alcohol. But, the results did show that individuals who drank between one and three alcoholic drinks a week was associated with being a victim of sexual coercion. There was no significant association between reporting physical abuse by a current partner and alcohol usage.

Photo Courtesy of Brittney Devoe

Photo Courtesy of Brittney Devoe

Although it would seem likely to get help for abuse, very few students sought help. Students are more willing to seek help from friends.

“Sometimes I think it’s just they don’t know who to go to,” Dennis McDonald, Vice President of Student Affairs said. “ And so they turn to a friend, and think I have at least told someone.”

The types of abuse by a partner are as followed: sexual coercion/abuse by a partner, physical abuse by a partner, and emotional abuse by a partner. Verbal abuse by a partner was the highest at 17% followed by harassment/stalking by a partner at 11.2%.

Along with the results of the survey, it was shown that the help seeking coincided with the type of abuse.

Those in current relationships made the decision to seek help based on:

  • Partner blaming you for problems
  • Partner made you feel intimidated/afraid
  • Partner caused injuries that required medical attention
  • Partner prohibited you from socializing
  • Partner made you change your behavior to keep partner from getting angry

Those who experienced abuse in past relationships sought help for the same reasons as well as:

  • Partner threw something at you
  • Partner displayed a weapon
  • Partner threatened to hurt you
  • Partner hit, slapped, or pushed you
  • Partner threatened to hurt themselves if you did not do what he or she wanted

When it comes to students witnessing sexual and physical abuse, 50.9% reported witnessing or hearing about sexual coercion of a fellow student who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Surprisingly, 30% of witnesses who witnessed some type of abuse did nothing.

These behaviors were predominantly witnessed at a bar or party (62.3%) followed by an off campus apartment (56.4%). The college has responded to these findings by having ongoing training of all security and student affairs staff. Outreach to students regarding services and support through new student orientation, educational presentations and campus events. Stop Abuse Awareness Campaigns. Outreach to faculty through school meetings, and linkages between the college and community agencies, hospitals police and legal systems.

Saint Rose students can go to different places to fit the type of help they seek. “They can go to the counseling center, if they want to keep something confidential. If they felt they are at risk and wanted some protection they could go to the campus security office and make a report there,” McDonald said.

The reported rates of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and people’s reporting experiences are very similar to other that have been done, as well as, other college campuses.  “I think the data we collected is fairly accurate,” Bologna said, “because it looks like data among other college aged students on other campuses across the country.”

Abuse in relationships in today’s day and age is a very serious matter. Not many people report that they have been abused and it needs to change. People shouldn’t be afraid of their partner or afraid to talk to someone about what is going on. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, look at the signs; you feel pressured to change who you are to please your partner, justifying your actions with your partner, you notice your partner is trying to control or manipulate you. That is not a healthy relationship. You should be able to communicate and trust your partner. Find that relationship. In the end it’s not worth it to stick with the unhealthy relationship if you are going to end up unhappy and hurt emotionally, mentally and physically.

“I think that the data suggests that Saint rose is not worse off or no better off,” Bologna said, “than any other college campus.”