By Megan Perry
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.
As a result, the East Los Angeles College Violence Intervention Team to hold a month long series of informational activities to help combat sexual assault.
The number of rapes and assaults that go unreported is about 60 percent, and the percentage of incidents perpetuated by someone the victim knows is even higher, at 66 percent.
These are some of the reasons why the VIT invited guest speakers to inform and encourage students to be aware, be cautious and be supportive throughout the month of April, which was Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Denim Day was April 27, which is a day when people are supposed to wear denim jeans as an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
In 1998, an Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore jeans. Students were encouraged to wear jeans to “break the silence” and join the Campus and Community Resource Fair on Denim Day.
ELAC’s VIT also organized the 10th annual Take Back the Night event, which gave students the opportunity to learn about the tell-tale signs of abuse and hear stories from real victims.
The tearful event was supposed to be a candlelight march down Avenida Cesar Chavez, yet the use of candles is against school policy.
The group improvised and used blue glow sticks to portray their message. They also carried signs with statistics and information about the event itself.
Shouts of “take back the night,” echoed through ELAC as Program Director, Sonia Rivera, lead the crowd with her bullhorn.
Continuing the theme, Erin Dabbs, a family law attorney who works for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, came to ELAC with a presentation entitled, “What is Sexual Assault and What Are Your Legal Rights?”
Eighty percent of the individuals involved in these types of cases are under the age of 30, said Dabbs.
She said that one in three women and one in six men would be assaulted, and both genders are four times as likely to be assaulted while in college.
Homosexual couples experience domestic violence and sexual assault as commonly as heterosexual couples, said Dabbs.
She also said that rape is a form of both domestic violence and sexual assault between couples, married or not.
Dabbs said, “Until the 1970s, most states had a spousal rape exception, which hasn’t been too long from now,” but now all 50 states have spousal rape labeled as a crime.
She explained that the motive behind domestic violence and sexual assault is usually for dominance and control over another individual. Some may be drawn into abusive habits and violence toward their spouse or partner because they too, have been abused or witnessed their parents do so.
The abuser could also withhold money to have financial control over the victim, she said.
“Rape and domestic violence is about dominating and controlling. Gaining self-confidence for the victims is the most important thing to do,” said Dabbs.
Dabbs said it was important for abused victims to gain confidence by encouraging the abused victim to report the rape or violence to law enforcement.
Dabbs said that people finally leave their abuser , on average, after the seventh attempt.
Linda Fischer, University of Southern California staff member and board member at the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, was the facilitator of a workshop entitled “Ultimate Power: You Can Make a Difference.”
Prior to her coming to a university, she was in the Army for more than 20 years and is an advocate for the prevention of sexual harassment.
“All you can do is have the knowledge to make a difference,” said Fischer.
She spoke about her own personal experiences of being raped while in the military which her book, “Ultimate Power: Enemy Within the Ranks,” is based on.
“I would cuss you out in a New York minute, walk out and feel okay,” said Fischer, when asked about how she handled her harassment and anger. When the workshop was finished, sandwiches, business cards and safety whistles were given to the attendees.
Along with the guest speakers and informational workshops, ELAC VIT hosted performances and other events, such as film screenings and discussions and self-defense tips.
The Vagina Monologues Benefit performance was held in English on April 14 and in Spanish on April 15.
This was an event sponsored by ELA Women’s Center, V-Day: A Global Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls and ELAC’s Women Support Center.
The proceeds earned from the event went to benefit the ELA Women’s Center.
During this month, the ELAC Women’s Support Center held a grand opening on April 14. The center will be available for any student to receive education and referrals for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, which is located in G7-111.
The Women’s Center also hosted a free rapid HIV testing on four different days and also went to the South Gate campus for a couple of days.
It was an oral swab test, and the results were ready in 20 minutes.
For more resources and information on domestic violence, sexual assault or anything else along those lines, victims can call for help at: