Most sexual assaults are ‘attacks on the soul’ and coercive rather than actual physical attacks, according to Rose McGowan, actress of the television show ‘Charmed.’ Having experienced sexual assault herself, she led a discussion on sexual assault facts and myths. This Campus Assault Resources and Education-sponsored event took place on Feb. 22 at Physical Sciences Lecture Hall.
McGowan started with the story of her best friend, Annie, who was attacked and raped at age 15 only a few feet from McGowan’s childhood home.
‘The worst part, according to Annie, was that during her rape she locked eyes with three different people and no one stopped to help the crying, bleeding, 15-year-old girl,’ McGowan said.
Although her story was true, most rapes do not occur in that manner or in many ways presented by the media.
According to McGowan, rapists could be anyone.
‘They could be a stranger or friend who offers a drunk girl one more drink or drug as a means to incapacitate them,’ McGowan said. ‘The rapist can also be a family member who takes advantage of trust. A rapist could be a boss or co-worker, a neighbor or a roommate.
McGowan defined rape as the crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, including sexual intercourse. She has also been a victim of sexual assault.
‘I am just here as a girl who has had sexual assault touch my life,’ McGowan said. ‘I have been grabbed at while in concerts and had guys stick their hands up my skirt in clubs.’
McGowan equated rape to murder in order to illustrate its gravity.
‘Only 5 percent of sexual assaults are reported nationally, yet at least one in four women will be assaulted some time in their lives,’ McGowan said. ‘If only 5 percent of murders were reported, the streets would be littered with bodies. There would be no one to pick them up because no one would know that they were there. With rape, imagine that instead of bodies littering the streets there were shells of people walking around. It would be nearly as many.’
McGowan refuted myths about rape, such as the belief that victims lie about being raped, that rape is defined by the use of physical violence and that victims scream and fight during the rape. She assured the audience that rape is never the victim’s fault.
‘It’s about power and control. It is an assault,’ McGowan said.
It was obvious at the end of the evening that the talk changed the minds of many students.
One man stood up in front of the entire auditorium and pledged to treat women with more respect. Others pledged similar things as well, such as not judging others and looking out for their friends and families, especially on the college campus.
Most students were unaware of what to expect from McGowan’s talk and left pleasantly surprised. Patrick Lynch, a third-year criminology major, enjoyed her humor.
‘I also thought it was awesome how into the audience she seemed,’ Lynch said. ‘She asked us questions, joked with us. I’m really glad I came.’
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