Local sexual assault cases on the rise
By CASEY NICCOLI
April is the month where hope is restored for survivors of sexual assault, and Amarillo College aims to bring our community together in order to continue to advocate for victims’ rights.
Sexual Assault awareness month (SAAM) is an annual campaign to keep the conversation going and share information on how to prevent sexual violence.
This year, the Amarillo College Police Department will work in tandem with Family Support Services holding on campus events in observance of SAMM April 4-7. They will be bringing together different agencies from around the community for the purpose of speaking out against sexual assault.
There will be featured speakers and resources in order to educate students and staff so they can learn how to protect themselves against sexual assault and where to go if they need help.
Family Support Services reported that Amarillo experienced a spike in sexual assault cases in February. Normally having 25, there were 50.
Suzie Aguilera, a business major, said she feels this support for victims is crucial. She personally experienced sexual assault. “It changed me as a person honestly,” she said. “After it happened to me, I started going down the wrong path, and then eventually I started going to church and it made me realize that you don’t forgive the people for them, you forgive them for yourself so you can move on,” said Aguilera.
‘There are so many men that
sexually assault or harass,
and they barely get a
slap on the wrist.’
AC police officers say their goal to help. “Our job is to educate the students, staff and faculty in their daily moments here on campus. I think we should get away from the term police officer in today’s time, I think we should be called public servants, because that’s what we really are,” said Morice Jackson, a campus police officer.
“My role is to be the bridge that connects the dots and makes sure that the students know that I am here to help them with whatever resources they need,” said Jackson. “Sexual assault is a very traumatic experience on a young person, and we understand that it takes a lot of strength to come forward,” said Jackson.
Educating the public is important, said Denese Skinner, vice president of student affairs, because sexual assault often goes unreported.
“It could be fear of the unknown legal process or retaliation from the perpetrator,” said Skinner, “It could be questioning if they will be believed if they come forward,” she added.
Aguilera said until the sentences for sexual assault convictions become more serious, many women don’t want to come forward.
“There are so many men that sexually assault or harass, and they barely get a slap on the wrist,” she said.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) states that sexual violence is more prevalent at college compared to other crimes and the statistics show that there are two sexual assaults for every one robbery, according to their website.
Although statistics can bring awareness to the seriousness of sexual assault at college, Jackson wants students to know that AC is a safe campus, but he warns students to be aware of your surroundings and don’t be fearful of reporting a crime.
“Call us, we will come to you and walk you back to your vehicle,” said Jackson.