Call for men: Stop the violence against women

05/15/09 Andrea Lypka
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Tampa Bay Crisis Center organized the first Call for Men inaugural meeting in Tampa to stop violence against women on May 13. At the workshop, 17 men explored how male adolescents and teenagers continue to view women as having less value than men or the property of men.

The organizer of the event was David Braughton, president of Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. This organization offers support and treatment for sexually assaulted people whether victims report the crimes or not.

“I have also experienced personally violence against women in my family and close friends. I wanted to do something practical to stop this violence. Rather than dealing with those who are perpetrating the violence, I wanted to start with the good guys who respect women and want to make a difference,” he said.

Although historically mainly women addressed this issue, he said ending violence against women is the responsibility of men. The first step would be to educate men about combating sexism, said Braughton. “Women, who have been sexually assaulted, are 13 times more likely to commit suicide than the average population. One in four women will be a victim of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence during her lifetime. But often most of theses crimes are not reported to authorities,” he said.

According to National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, a sexual assault occurs every 90 seconds in this country. In Florida, one out of every nine women has been the victim of sexual assault and, according to this center, there are 43,000 rapes victims in Hillsborough County.

“There are also the morbidity issues including drug abuse, alcoholism, obesity, depression, sexual promiscuity, so getting treatment is essential,” he said. The organization provides forensic exam, therapy, and legal help for the victims.

The Crisis Center is also the rape center for Hillsborough County. Braughton said that 340 victims were treated at this center last year but this number is increasing. One of the causes for the rising violence is the economy. “This year the number of the reported sexual assaults has increased by about 10 percent and in March they doubled over the last year’s numbers in the same month. The problem is growing,” he said.

Bob Staehle is the captain of the Police Department at the University of South Florida. He has been involved in combating violence against women for 20 years and said that sexual violence in the society remains the most underreported crime because the victim fears.

“One of the fears of the rape victim is the family finding out,” Staehle said. “In the past, we have seen that if the victim does come forward, the parents will punish her again by removing her from school.”

Other fears of the victims are blame from the society and others knowing about the rape. “Their fears are founded in the fact that if they take any kind of action, these fears supersede the need to seek help. Years ago, when colleges had dorms with roommates, the reporting of rape was much higher,” he said because the victims confined to the roommate.

Those students who live off campus may feel isolated and socialize rapidly. “They may allow themselves to be swept up into a social situation that they would have not participated in at home whether is drinking, drugs or going to a party. This is called the red zone and the women are facing the greatest risk for this in their first six months if college career. Predators know how to spot this people,” he said. In most cases the perpetrator is a relative or friend who had a relationship with the victim and the sexual assault happens outside of campus, said Staehle.

“Eighty percent of women who are raped are raped by someone they knew. A vast majority of these rapes occur in the home of the assailant or the home of the victim.” University campuses are not the most likely place for the sexual assault to occur.

The next meeting will be on June 10.

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