GUTS spread awareness

In an attempt to better educate students about this topic, the Gay Union of Trenton State at TCNJ (GUTS), in conjunction with the Women’s Center, invited speaker Noelle Roop to the College. Roop delivered a lecture concerning rape and sexual assault, Tuesday, in Forcina Hall.

Roop’s objective was to make more people aware of this rarely talked about, yet major concern in today’s society. Roop shared her personal experiences with rape and sexual assault, in an effort to open students’ eyes to this frightening issue. Students listened to her story, a heart-wrenching account laced with pain and anguish. She revisited memories of when she was raped by a man in high school and then later became the victim of a sexual assault by her girlfriend. Roop spoke candidly and honestly about her experience with homosexual sexual assault, which allowed her audience to receive a firsthand account of this seldom discussed issue.

“There are not many resources about this issue, and nobody really talks about it,” Roop said.

“Before attending Roop’s lecture, I had never heard any discussions about homosexual assault,” Melissa Kovacs, freshman education major, said. Freshman Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) member Leslie Stickler was equally impressed by Roop’s speech. “We experienced a very special confession of a brave survivor who has reclaimed her suffering,” Stickler said.

Along with her encounters with assault, Roop provided statistics about the widespread existence of rape and sexual violence in today’s society. She established their prevalence by citing disturbing figures, such as the fact that one in three women will be sexually assaulted while in high school and college and that sexual assault occurs once every two minutes in the United States. Roop said that while many people do not realize the magnitude of heterosexual rape and sexual assault, they are at least aware of its occurrence. However, most people do not even realize the existence of homosexual violence, according to Roop.

“No one wants to talk about it, because talking about it means it is real,” she said.

Roop also recognized that it is extremely difficult for victims of homosexual rape or abuse to tell someone about the crime. While it is not easy for anyone to share their story concerning this issue, Roop said that it is even harder for people “to admit that women can rape.”

Roop believes that it is only by actively talking about assault that people will become more aware of its existence and start to take steps against its prevention. Roop strongly advocated turning to hotlines, peer counselors or a trusted friend or family member to talk about this issue, especially if you are yourself a victim. Sexual assault hotlines include the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), which can be reached at 1-800-656-HOPE, or Silent No More, at 1-800-871-7741.