Sexual assault awareness month concludes with informational workshops

By Gustavo Buenrostro

The Sexual Assault Awareness and Violence Education team held workshops and movie screenings throughout April to shed light on Sexual Assault Awareness.

On April 15,Lisa Vargas, an outreach specialist at East Los Angeles Women’s Center spoke about human trafficking as an issue around the country.

Vargas said that there are three types of human trafficking. Sex trafficking, sexual exploitation,and organ trafficking. She said that human trafficking happens all the time around the world or around the community. She said that 50 of human traffickings happens to children under the age of 21 and 52% of the victims are men and 42% are women. 

Vargas also talked about pimps and their victims. There are two types of pimps, a “Romeo” and “Gorilla.” A Gorilla pimp controls their victims entirely with physical violence. A Romeo pimp lures his victims with affection and gifts, but violence will be something they use to control the victim as well. 

“This is why I do what I do, to bring awareness to the community… this is why I bring the information to you guys so you guys can start using your voice to help these people,” Vargas said.

A common misconception of human trafficking is that females are the only victims in sexual exploitation but more male and children are being used for sexual exploitation. Other people targeted are immigrants.

Pimps psychologically manipulate the victim by making them believe it’s their own fault and that they deserve to be sexually exploited. 

They hold family or children hostage and are constantly using them to manipulate the victim. Vargas said that social media is one factor that misguides communities to think that it’s not a big deal because movies, music videos, TV shows and other forms of media make human trafficking look normal. 

On April 16, a documentary film called “Rape on the Night Shift” was shown. It talked about the rape, sexual assault and violence which occur to undocumented female janitorial workers. 

The documentary was graphic in nature, but was necessary to depict the truth of what happened to these women.

On April 18, Alejandra Aguilar spoke on the stigma of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and informed students about the treatments and prevention of HIV.

Aguilar has worked in the field of HIV treatment and prevention for 14 years. She said she has seen a huge improvement on medication and HIV prevention. 

In LA county there is about 8,000 people who are infected with HIV and do not know because they have not been tested. Aguilar said that’s why it’s important to get tested and be aware of someone’s status. 

Aguilar said that in California there is a law that allows a person with HIV to not disclose their status. 

There is another law in California that says that if a person with HIV intentionally infects another person ,it is considered a misdemeanor and there are legal consequences.  

HIV is a disease that can be well contained and despite what many people believe HIV is not easily contracted. 

HIV is not an airborne disease and is not transmitted through casual contact. HIV can only be transmitted through anal sex, vaginal sex or through sharing needles.

 Aguilar said that the journey of someone with HIV is difficult. She shared a story of a patient that said to her that “HIV didn’t come into my life when I was 18. It came into my life when I was little. I was being abused. I was being assaulted and I was hurt.”  

She said that if anyone wants to get more information, to visit the website where  information on HIV and chat with a doctor will be found. 

On the morning of April 18, Jody Adewale, who has a PhD in psychology and professor, discussed different types of trauma and the treatments for it with ELAC students. 

The four different types of trauma are sexual, physical, psychological, and financial. 

Trauma ranges from mild to severe. This trauma that is experienced can lead to different outcomes. The diagnosis and treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder were most focused on. 

ASD last for 30 days or less after the traumatic event and PTSD last 30 days or more after the traumatic event. Although diagnosis is important, Adewale said she cares more about the symptoms and treating them.

“What’s important when working with trauma is not to flood the patient with too much emotion. It’s like spreading a water hose on your face. All the emotions come back and it’s too damaging,” Adewale said.

Adewale encouraged to help people around who are experiencing hard times and go to other people to get help.

Volunteer coordinator Claudia Arevalo and sexual assault therapist Alice Ovando told students if they know anyone who has either been a victim or survivor of rape or sexual assault, to please call the crisis hotline at 1-800-585-6231. 

Those interested in volunteering either at the Women’s Center or for the crisis hotline to call 323-526-5819. They will train anyone who is willing to volunteer and become part of the team. 

There are two locations. The main office is in Los Angeles at 1431 S. Atlantic Blvd and the second is at The Wellness Center  at the Historic General Hospital, LAC + USC, also in Los Angeles. 

Contributing reporters were Delanie Villanueva, Dolores Carrillo, Miguel Escalante and Karla Ventura.

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