Sexual assault more common than individuals think; ‘The Hunting Ground’ shows struggles of sexual assualt victims

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It’s many individuals’ worst nightmares, and it happens more often than one may think.

The Dove Center, Dixie State University and Dixie Regional Medical Center teamed up to show “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide and how institutions oftentimes don’t help the victims involved. It was shown Thursday evening for the public, and another free screening of the 2015 documentary will be shown this Thursday in the Eccles Main Stage Theater at 6:30 p.m. The documentary is also available on Netflix.

The documentary follows two women, Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, who were both victims of sexual assault at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Their cases were brushed off when Pino and Clark told administration what happened to them.

“They got no help from the institution, their investigations went nowhere, (and) they were made to feel like it was their fault,” said Elizabeth Bluhm, victim advocate coordinator for the Dove Center.

Even though the main characters of the documentary are Pino and Clark, it also features stories from many other women and men who were sexually assaulted on college campuses nationwide.

According to the film, 16 percent of college women will be raped before they graduate, 88 percent of college women don’t report rape, 45 percent of colleges in 2012 reported zero sexual assaults, and 95 percent of college presidents say they handle sexual assaults appropriately.

DSU is considered to be one of the safest colleges for students to go to, Bluhm said, and that has caused people to believe sexual assault is not an issue at DSU.

“The problem is bigger than people think it is,” Title IX Director Cindy Cole said. “It’s a real problem, and it does happen.”

Cole said the most important thing a student can do is have more conversations about consent.

“Here at [DSU], we have kind of what’s called ‘yes means yes,’” Cole said. “That means affirmative knowing and voluntary actions or words.”

Bluhm said conversations about consent need to be ongoing.

“[A guy] can’t think that because a girl had sex with him last weekend that she’s going to have sex with him this weekend,” she said.

Some ways to lower the risk of being sexually assaulted are to be aware of your surroundings, Cole said.

Bluhm said risk prevention is important, but it doesn’t stop someone from attacking another person.

“If you emphasize those strategies too much, you risk getting the impression that it’s not the perpetrators fault,” Bluhm said. “A woman gets raped because a rapist is in the room, not because she’s wearing a miniskirt.”

Bluhm said it’s important to intervene if you see something happening to someone when you know it shouldn’t be.

Some ways Title IX can help if a student is sexually assaulted  is taking remedial measures like changing class times so he or she doesn’t have to be in the same class as his or her perpetrator, helping if the student is having a hard time attending class, and offering an investigation to see if there’s been any violation of DSU policy, Cole said. She also said, if there has been a violation, it can lead to expulsion from the university for the perpetrator.

Some ways students can get more help if they are dealing with sexual assault is to visit the Title IX office or the Dove Center. Students can also take the self-protection course offered at DSU or visit seeactstop.org

Amber Rich, an employee for the Dixie Regional Medical Center who works with nonprofit organizations in St. George, said watching this documentary changed her perspective on what to teach her children.

“I don’t need to teach my daughters, I need to teach my sons,” Rich said.