Rowan Proftalk takes on sexual assault and violence

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On Tuesday, April 10, Rowan University held a Proftalk on Sexual Assault. The event had five student presenters, along with dinner and snacks. The first speaker, junior pre-med Dominic Gigliotti, spoke about the commonality of sexual assault within college Greek life. Being in a fraternity himself, he began his speech with the fact that 1 in 5 women are likely to be sexually assaulted at a fraternal function. Gigliotti’s research on sexual violence is not Rowan specific, but the average among colleges throughout the country.

Emily Lugo Irizarry, a junior psychology major, taught the audience about abusive relationships. She began her presentation with instructions to the audience.

“Everyone look to your left, then look to your right. One out of every three people… so some of the people that you just looked at… are victims of domestic violence,” Irizarry said.

According to her research, 70 percent of all college students are not aware they are in an abusive relationship, and 60 percent of college students are raped within their relationships.

“A pattern of behavior to gain and maintain control over a partner,” Irizarry said, describing the relationships.

Types of abusive relationships are physical abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse (making them buy you things, etc.), stalking and most recently added “digital abuse.” Digital abuse is new to our generation.

“It could be them embarrassing you online, or posting pictures of them they did not give you consent to post, or asking for your Instagram password just to ‘make sure’ you’re not cheating or posting anything crazy,” Irizarry said.

Concluding the event was a word from the coordinator, senior psychology major Brianna Beulah. She described her experience while being a part of the Aggression and Sexuality Prevention team ever since her freshman year and how it impacted her life and college career.

“I started doing annotated bibliographies and literature reviews to being involved in multiple studies and traveling to Phoenix, Atlanta, Boston and New York for different research conferences,” Beulah said.

After investing countless hours toward the prevention of sexual assault, her final sentiment meant to reach out to fellow students and survivors of sexual assault everywhere.

“My research experience has helped me grow stronger and it helped me realize personally that my justice wasn’t going to be found within my own situation,” Beulah said. “That wasn’t what I needed, that wasn’t my culture. Instead, it was through the acquisition of knowledge that I realized that I do have power, and I now speak for the girl six years ago that had to choke on her tears, and I speak for the countless other people who have been silenced by sexual violence, and I speak in hopes that one day I won’t have to speak about this anymore, and that one day no one will have to again.”

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