Most clubs do not attempt to tackle the sensitive topic of sexual assault, but the newly founded club, One in Three, decided to host an entire discussion dinner on the subject on Nov. 22.
To combat the increase of dating abuse and sexual assault, Kimberly Navarro and Sandra Maas, both junior business administration majors, came together out of a common interest in raising awareness of the issue across campus.
“The first step is getting the resources to know what to do, or what it is,” said Lili Gradilla, the club advisor and intercultural program coordinator at the University. “It’s important we use our voices.”
The club’s name stems from the statistic that one in three adolescents will be victimized by dating abuse.
This led to the club’s dedication to raise awareness of dating abuse and sexual assault at La Verne.
“Whether you’re a guy or a girl, the experience is the same,” said Navarro on abuse.
People from across campus spoke, including Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs and Title IX coordinator.
Discussing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Rahmani said that it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all educational programs and activities on, and off, campus.
The act goes further to protect all persons, regardless of gender or gender identity, from sexual discrimination, harassment and violence.
“We want to stop the behavior, make sure it never happens again and make the student whole,” Rahmani said of her department’s goals.
Rahmani went on to say that most of the time assault is a crime of anger and violence, and that it is an attempt to control the victim.
She said the school hopes to provide a safe place to go for students who have been victims of sexual assault.
The department is also concerned with their student’s studies, living environment and general well-being after an assault has occurred.
“Sexual assault is sexual discrimination because, more times than not, women are raped because they’re women,” Rahmani said.
The counseling center was also represented by Sarah Leclerc, a La Verne doctoral student, who reminded the group that the University offers free counseling for all traditional age undergraduate students.
Leclerc told the group that abuse that arises from toxic relationships are not the victim’s fault. She said that no one should ignore any situation they see, but should instead step forward to do their best to get that person help.
Ashley Solis from the House of Ruth in Claremont, a volunteer run domestic violence center, spoke about the center’s role as advocates for women who have been victims but are not comfortable enough to speak on their own.
Solis laid down some numbers, stating that reported cases of abuse account for a quarter of all women in the United States, as well as one in 12 men, and that one in three teen relationships involve some form of abuse.
“(Leaving an abusive situation) is a process. It’s challenging and it requires people to just be there for them,” Solis said.
She said that it takes an average of seven incidents before women seek help at House of Ruth.
Navarro said it only takes one person to inspire others to speak up about their abuse, and that inspiration could help save someone’s life.
One in Three’s discussion dinner was a huge success in its ability to raise awareness for both the club and dating abuse.
Amanda Larsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.