Prevention educators tell Eye on Isla Vista that sometimes people don’t realize that they meet the legal definition of a victim – or a rapist.
It’s an unfortunate truth that a lot of worthwhile organizations do their work quietly and without fanfare. We often don’t think about what they do for the community until we are in dire straits and need help in some way. Representatives from UCSB’s Rape Prevention Education Program want to make sure this doesn’t happen with one organization in particular.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Santa Barbara’s Rape Crisis Center have organized a 5K Fun Run & Walk to raise funds and educate students and the public about resources available on campus and in our community. The 5K will be held Saturday, March 21, 9:30 a.m.-noon. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
Kegan M. Allee, advocacy support specialist for the Rape Prevention Education Program, and a runner herself, said she designed the course to be appealing. “I tried to make the route pretty and educational,” she said. The 5K begins at the lagoon, meanders across campus, and heads through a portion of Isla Vista. As participants make their way across UCSB, organizers plan to put up informational billboards. “We are highlighting different locations where survivors can seek services,” Allee said. These include the UC Santa Barbara Police Department, the Counseling Center, the UCSB Alcohol & Drug Program, Student Health, Isla Vista Foot Patrol, Judicial Affairs, and, last but not least, the Rape Prevention Education Program.
This is the second annual event of this kind. It costs $15 to register individually, but only $10 per team of four to six runners, and more participants are signing up through active.com every day, Allee said. Last year, the event raised $500. This year, she said, organizers have so far raised more than $500 through registration fees and have received $120 in donations.
Allee said that organizers have tried to get the word out about the event in a variety of different ways. They have sent out information to newspapers and radio stations, and have handed out fliers in coffee shops and other locations throughout the community. She said that the goal is to make the 5K a community event, and not just a student activity. “The community is encouraged to participate,” she added.
Since the beginning of the 2011 fall quarter, advocates from the Rape Prevention Education Program, which is housed in the Women’s Resource Center, have met with 132 students. Dr. Allee, however, explained that this figure does not represent the number of rapes that have occurred because it includes all forms of gender-based violence reported (sexual assault, attempted assaults, dating violence, stalking, etc.), as well as incidents that occurred before a student attended UCSB. For example, in winter 2012, there were 65 advocacy appointments, 34 of them continuing clients and 31 new clients. Of those, three people who came in had been raped, two in I.V., and one while studying abroad.
Allee emphasized that even though students are coming into the UCSB office to receive services, the rapes often occur in other locations and may have happened a long time ago. The majority of the clients who come in for services do so to discuss dating violence, sexual harassment, and other related issues, Allee explained.
If someone does come into her office because they have been raped, Allee has information waiting for them. The options are many and have distinct outcomes. For example, say a rape victim wants to go to a gynecologist and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases or be prescribed the morning-after pill. If they tell the doctor they have been raped, the health representative legally has to report it to authorities. They might choose not to disclose that they have been raped and avoid disclosure. They could also choose to get a forensic exam at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center or have law enforcement perform an exam. “It is a lot of information … my job is to make it accessible,” she explained
Throughout the year, the Women’s Resource Center puts on events and programs to make sure students know about the services and to educate the student population about issues ranging from assault to empowerment. Education is crucial: Allee said student surveys have found that people who meet the legal definition of a rape victim may not identify themselves as such, and the same is true of people who meet the legal definition of a rapist.
Representatives from the center first interact with students at freshman orientation sessions, graduate student workshops, and meetings with those visiting from abroad. Allee said they even have a program set up to provide information in Mandarin.
While Allee provides services for students, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center is the source of help for the entire community. The 5K run is designed to ensure that these services don’t go unnoticed or unsupported.