By Alexandrea Velez, Staff Writer
The Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center hosted Consent Training for Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape on Oct. 5. The teachings ranged from the definition of power to the difference between verbal and nonverbal consent.
The event had a guest speaker, Jamie Pytlik. Pytlik is an Enough is Enough Coordinator who works in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in the Crime Victim Assistance Bureau. Pytlik focuses on providing gender-based violence prevention programs while also serving as a confidential resource for students, faculty and staff if they have experienced violence throughout multiple college campuses in the Bronx.
The main fear of reporting on college campuses is the stigma surrounding being the ‘perfect victim.’
In response to this phrase, Pytlik stated, “I think it’s a flawed phrase, because nobody’s a perfect victim, and nobody should ever have to be a victim. So the term ‘imperfect victim’ conveys this idea that there is a perfect victim when there is not, and especially that phrase is also rooted in rape culture.”
During the presentation, Pytlik discussed not only verbal consent but also physical and social cues that could determine consent. Verbal consent would be counted as phrases such as, ‘Yes’ or ‘That sounds great.’ But consent is considered not given with simple phrases such as ‘maybe’ or ‘I’m not sure.’ But she also stated during the presentation that saying yes to one activity does not imply consent for future activities, and that constantly checking in with a sexual partner is important.
“Verbal consent is not the only type of consent because this leaves a large gap for instances of coercion and other situations where one may not be able to verbally give consent,” Alixandria James, a senior majoring in public health with a concentration in healthcare administration, said. “A physical consent mark will be very inviting as opposed to someone pushing away or their body language being seemingly uncomfortable.”
On college campuses, specifically, there are large groups of students living together with so many different power dynamics, such as upperclassmen and underclassmen or Resident Assistants and residents.
“Having training on campus, especially the one about consent due to the college culture of drinking and partying, is extremely important,” Ciara Dalton, a senior intern at the LWGRC, said. “Educating our students is the first step in combatting campus sexual assault and they are quick, comprehensive and interactive sessions that allow students to learn skills they can adapt to their lives.”
Sexual assault does not have a picture-perfect definition or set examples because of the variety of ways it can occur.
“The idea that rape has to look a certain way or sexual assault has to look a certain way for it to be valid … that’s not the case because we know that sexual assault can happen to anybody and it can happen in a lot of different ways. And all of those experiences are equally as valid regardless of somebody’s identity or the way they respond to that experience.”
When it comes to reporting, there are many outlets at Manhattan College, the main one being the Title IX office.
“Reporting is a difficult process because our immediate reaction is for it to go away,” Dalton said. “Having something happen to you that can be reported holds a lot of weight and there may be a lot of emotions that go along with facing that … Reporting or not reporting does not make it any more or less real.”
Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors:
On-Campus Confidential Resources: Student Counseling Service and Health Services
On-Campus Private Resources: Title IX Office and Campus Safety
Off-Campus Confidential Resources: EIE Coordinators, Jamie Pytlik and Nicole Maiorano
Off-Campus Anonymous Resources: Hotline Numbers, Safe Horizon 212-227-3000, and RAINN 1-800-656-4673