Looking sexual assault straight in the eye; how one class of BSU students is navigating stigma

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month.
Posted at 9:34 PM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 01:22:32-04

BOISE, Idaho — It may not be an easy subject to talk about, but that's exactly why one class at Boise State wants you to talk about it. On the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness month, students and experts engaged in a deep discussion on the prevalence and stigma surrounding sexual assault.

"We live in this society where there are certain cool things-- that like, 'Silence is cool. don't even call someone out,' right? Well it's also uncool to get raped," said Dr. Nivea Castaneda, child and sexual abuse expert and Boise State adjunct faculty.

According to the CDC, one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime. In Idaho alone, someone is raped every 15.4 hours, according to a 2017 Idaho Crime Report.

"When we start to look at how frequently sexual violence is happening, then we can start to recognize that this is something that doesn't have to be isolating, that there is the opportunity for connection and support around," said Rachael Bazzett, Clinician, Women's and Children's Alliance.

At Monday's Sexual Assault Awareness panel led by a Boise State communications class, experts said rape culture is worsened by social situations where disrespectful behavior is tolerated.

"So for example if somebody's cat calling a woman, if you're there and you're present, you say, no no no, that's not okay..." said Castaneda. "You can do your part by making sure that you use your own advocacy your own language to say, 'Nuh-uh, not in front of me.'"

And while it may seem like a small change to make, one college student left with a renewed sense of commitment to the cause.

"I'm gonna take a stand. I'm gonna say, 'You know what? That's not funny I'm sorry but that's not right..." said Isaiah Schmitz, student, Boise State. "Even if it breaks the mood or something, it's the right thing to do. And I think I'm gonna try to be more outspoken for what's right."

In an effort to create a support system for victims of sexual assault, experts said they hope students will use their "power of language."

"Enough drips start to happen in a bucket eventually it overflows," said Zane Hinely, student, Boise State. "And so I think that by starting small, we can make it into a bigger movement."