According to the U.S. Department of Justice, somewhere inAmerica, a woman becomes the victim of a sexual assault every twominutes.
Understanding the Kobe Bryant Trial was a one-day workshopsponsored by EWU Student Health and Wellness, Campus Sexual AssaultTask Force, Community Education Awareness Support Equality(C.E.A.S.E) Men Against Violence, Creating a Rape-Free Environment(C.A.R.E), and Sexual Assault and Family Trauma (SAFeT) ResponseCenter.
The workshop was an opportunity for community members, students andfaculty to get together and discuss the controversial case, how themedia has shaped our views of sexual assault, and other storiesbehind the headlines.
“My hope is that we educate ourselves about these issues, thejustice process and make more intelligent and active decisionsabout the info we accept and the info we reject,” said Dr.Russell Kolts a Psychology Professor at EWU.
Michelle Pingree, the EWU health and wellness director, believesthat it’s important to educate the public on sexual assaultissues.
“It’s time to initiate and continue the dialogue ofsexual assault, it’s never going to go away. We need to keeptalking about it in order to build awareness,” saidPingree.
The workshop was divided into hour-long sessions. Attendees wereinvited to participate in three different discussion groupsregarding legal issues, media issues and victim issues pertainingto rape.
One major question asked throughout the workshop was “whatneeds to happen culturally to put a stop to rape.”
Joanne Archambault, now a founder of the non-profit organizationEnding Violence Against Women (EVAW) and a retired San Diego PoliceOfficer, believes that as a community, we tend to blame victimswhen an act of sexual assault takes place.
“When a promiscuous person is the victim of a sexual assault,we assume that they did something to provoke the attack, and wedon’t believe them,” said Archambault. “We needto understand that it’s important as a community to respondto each victim the first time.”
Another major issue discussed was how enthralled society becomeswith controversial cases such as the Kobe Bryant case. Does thiscreate an unfair trial for the high profile defendant?
Karen Boone of SAFeT suggests that as a society people tend todistance themselves.
“We start to think that the victim is someone else’sproblem, that Kobe Bryant is someone else’s problem, so wecontinue to watch the trial,” said Boone. “Sexualassault affects us all, people around us are affected by it, andwhether its family or friends we have to help each other. Victimsare looking for friends without judgment,”
The night was capped off with the keynote speaker, Archambault.
Archambault stressed the importance of listening, believing andvalidating. She urged people to believe in innocent until provenguilty, but to seek the truth.