Warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault and gender violence.
As women, we’ve all been told to watch our drinks, let someone know where we were, and send a text when we got back home safe. It’s become common knowledge that college-aged women are targets for sexual assault, but instead of trying to inform the community as a whole, many prevention programs solely target potential victims. Duke’s Women’s Center has sponsored a gender violence prevention training for a few years now and it’s something that all Duke students should seriously consider doing. The goal of PACT (“Prevent. Act. Challenge. Teach.”) training is to help students learn more about identifying gender violence situations and provide them with the information to safely intervene in those situations. Here are three reasons why you should participate in PACT training, not that you should need any.
1. The stats are horrifying
According to the Student Experience Survey published by Duke in February of 2017, forty percent of undergraduate women and ten percent of undergraduate men reported being sexually assaulted during their time at Duke. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates that approximately 1 in 5 college women will be sexually assaulted during their time at college. That’s twenty percent. Female Duke students are twice as likely as the average female college student to be victims of sexual assault. I’m personally not a fan of those odds. With PACT training, you can learn more about rape culture specific to Duke’s campus with Duke-specific scenarios presented to you by a trained Duke student. You’ll also learn about common rape myths and why they’re false, like the fact that less than two percent of rape accusations are false. “This number is the same as the false accusation rate for all felonies,” says Mehreen Shafqat, a gender violence prevention intern at the Women’s Center.
2. This is a community-wide issue, not just a female issue
Instead of telling women how to dress and act so they lower their chances of being targeted, the entire community should be ready to intervene and protect their own. Per the Women’s Center’s website, “[the] prevention efforts call for taking a wider community approach rather than simply targeting individuals as potential perpetrators or victims.” The Women’s Center’s got the right idea. With PACT training, you’ll learn how to intervene as a bystander and support survivors. The main goal of PACT training is to decrease the number of sexual assault incidents on campus by teaching participants how to intervene and prevent them from becoming passive bystanders. PACT facilitators also want to teach participants how to compassionately respond to survivors of gender violence.
3. PACT training can help you make informed decisions in your own life
What is consent? What is gender violence? You’ll learn about all of this and more during PACT training. Learning about what actually constitutes consent will be useful in your own sex life and will help you determine whether your friend should be going off with a stranger she just met after too much to drink. Being able to recognize the various kinds of gender violence will be useful in your personal life as well, since this kind of violence can happen to anyone, not just women.
PACT trainings will be held this semester from 6 to 8:30pm in the Women’s Center Lounge on East Campus on the following days: October 19th and 26th and November 9th and 16th. The trainings are spread out over two sessions and are collectively five hours in duration. The link to register is here (https://dukegroups.com/organization/womenscenter).