Conference sheds light on sexual violence, promotes prevention

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Mandy Mount, a psychologist and activist delivered the keynote address at Cal State Fullerton’s 16th annual Violence Prevention Conference, where she talked about her work in bringing hope to victims of sexual violence. (Graham McTague / Daily Titan)

Esteemed psychologist and nonviolence activist Mandy Mount, Ph.D., shed light on the effects of sexual violence on college campuses at Cal State Fullerton’s 16th annual Violence Prevention Conference, presented by the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Program.

Mount, the keynote speaker at the conference dubbed “It’s On Us: Preventing Sexual Violence,” currently serves as the director of UC Irvine Campus Assault Resources and Education office, which she started in 2005. She also chairs the UCI Women’s Empowerment Initiative and is the project director for a large campus grant funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Through her work as a consultant, trainer and activist, Mount said that she aims to bring hope, trust and safety back into the lives of victims of sexual violence, who never deserved to have lost that in the first place.

“This is a call to action for me,” Mount said. “Sexual violence is devastating, it’s life-changing, and it’s completely unnecessary.”

A survey conducted across 27 institutions of higher education by the Association of American Universities during spring 2015, showed that 11.7 percent of students in the study reported experiencing non-consensual sexual contact by physical force. The number of female undergraduate student respondents who experienced sexual misconduct was 23.1 percent.

The findings also showed that the overall reporting rates to law enforcement and campus officials was low, from five to 28 percent, depending on the type of behavior.

“The numbers that we see here represent the very real experiences of human beings, of people in this room, of people we know,” Mount said.

Mount introduced four ways that college campuses can be proactive about responding to sexual violence, which included multidisciplinary response, trauma-informed approaches and programs, research based and student-informed prevention programs and independent survivor assistance centers that provide holistic healing programs.

Following Mount’s presentations, the conference dispersed into three breakout discussion sessions, which allowed people to consider more specific subjects.

Groups included an interactive session led by the Violence Prevention Program from the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center, a workshop on confronting the reality in dismantling rape culture and a session on reporting sexual assaults, which focused on the disclosure processes available to the CSUF community.

The conference continued with a viewing of the 2005 documentary, “The Hunting Ground,” which exposes rape crimes across campuses all over the U.S. and the institutional cover-ups that followed.

“We know that violence is occurring and we want people to come forward,” said Mary Becerra, Director of the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center. “We want to instill a climate and an environment here where people feel safe to report and safe to come forward and get the care and support that they need to heal.”

Wrapping up the conference was a panel made up of CSUF staff, including Michelle Tapper, Title IX administrator; Dean of Students Tonantzin Oseguera; Alyssa Avila, violence prevention educator and victim advocate; University Police Captain John Brockie, and Stacy Mallicoat, chair of the Division of Politics, Administration and Justice.

“These are our stories and I believe it is a basic human right to feel love, to feel safe in our bodies, to feel pleasure, and to be free from fear,” Mount said.

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