Counselor addresses misconceptions about sexual assault

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Licensed professional counselor Lucy Ziegler speaks to 30 audience members about the myths of sexual assault April 5 in the craft room of Loftin. Date rape is more damaging because it’s usually done by someone the victim knows, Ziegler said. She encouraged the audience to listen to their gut instincts and reminded them that “rape isn’t about sex, it’s about taking power and control.” Photo by Michelle Delgado

By Maria Gardner

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

To prevent sexual violence, it’s important to understand the myths surrounding rape, a former clinical director of the Rape Crisis Center said April 5 in Loftin Student Center.

One in five women and one in seven men have been sexually assaulted, Lucy K. Ziegler said during a presentation for Sexual Assault Awareness Month hosted by SAC Cares and the counseling department.

An estimated 40 students listened to Ziegler, who was the clinical director for the Rape Crisis Center for 10 years. She also is a licensed professional counselor.

“It’s the victim’s fault” is the biggest myth about sexual assault, she said.

Victims are never at fault no matter what they wore, how much they drank or how late they were out, she said.

This is a myth the person committing the violation tells their victim to put the shame and blame onto the victim, Ziegler said.

There are four circumstances in which a person cannot give consent:

• Under the threat of physical violence, intimidation or coercion.

• If unconscious, unaware, asleep or mentally incapacitated.

• If under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• If under the legal age of 17 in Texas.

She says another myth is that perpetrators are sex-crazed maniacs.

“The truth is rape is not about sex but about power and control, taking over someone’s body,” she said.

Most cases of sexual assault involve a person the survivor knows, Ziegler said.

This can cause even more pain and trauma for the victim, she said.

Another myth is that women report rape for revenge, Ziegler said.

An estimated 2-8 percent of reported sexual assaults are false, according to a study by National Sexual Violence Resource published in 2009.

The majority of sexual assault crimes are not reported for fear of not being believed and being blamed for the crime, Ziegler said.

“They are going through a lot of suffering before they tell someone,” she said.

She said victims of sexual assault suffer from anxiety and fear, and this can turn into depression.

“The trauma can affect the physical biology of the victim and put them off balance,” Ziegler said.

There are resources on and off campus for survivors to get the support they need, she said.

The Rape Crisis Center sponsors a 24-hour hotline with advocates who support survivors in every state of their recovery, such as being present at the hospital when the survivor is having a rape kit done or when reporting to the police, Ziegler said.

The center also provides free counseling.

On campus, there are resources as well.

At the SAC Cares Office, located in Room 101 of the nursing complex, Title IX Director Jacob-Aidan Martinez serves as a liaison connecting students to resources here and in the community.

The counseling center on the first floor of Moody Learning Center also provides free counseling. To make an appointment to see a counselor, call 210-486-1620.

Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

She said it is everyone’s responsibility to take care of each other and support survivors.

“It’s like throwing a rock in a pond: The ripples affect everyone,” Ziegler said. A flier created by the SAC Cares office reads:

“Prevention starts with challenging victim-blaming and believing survivors when they disclose. Each of us is essential in challenging harmful attitudes and the societal acceptance of rape.”

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