Bringing counseling and comfort to sexual assault victims
Every two and a half minutes someone in America is sexually assaulted.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti–sexual assault organization, there are more than 200,000 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault every year in the United States. Every two and a half minutes someone is sexually assaulted and one in six American women has been a victim of rape. The statistics are sobering, and with a campus as large as Boston University’s, Helen Lowery (CAS’06) found it alarming that on-campus resources for sexual assault victims were practically nonexistent.
“It’s important for students to feel that they have support on campus,” says Lowery, president of the Coalition for Consensual Sex. “It helps to show students that the University is supporting them. If there aren’t any services available to them, it seems like no one cares about the issue of sexual assault.”
Lowery and classmate Nicole Levitz (CAS’06) decided to make sure their fellow students knew that someone cared. Last August they formed the Coalition for Consensual Sex, a student group whose aim is raising awareness and knowledge on campus of rape, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. They have spent much of this year coordinating with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to arrange for rape counselors to begin working at BU in the fall.
“There was no sexual assault counseling on campus when we started,” says Lowery. “There are approximately 29,000 people on campus — that’s a decent amount of people, who in some way may be affected by sexual assault. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than at any other time in their lives.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Coalition for Consensual Sex has several events scheduled.
• Saturday, April 15, the group will host its second “I Rock for Consensual Sex” concert, at 7 p.m. at BU Central. Performing will be Sarah Cagianese, IY, Fly Upright Kite, and The Pretty Nice Encouragement Band. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
• Sunday, April 23, the coalition will host Take Back the Night, an evening vigil for sexual assault survivors and students to speak out against rape, at 5 p.m. on the Boston Common.
• Sunday, April 30, members of the coalition will participate in the first Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Benefit Walk.
For more information, e-mail the Coalition for Consensual Sex at firstname.lastname@example.org.