Men persuade male peers to take sexual assault seriously

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Gabriel Hansen (president) and his fellow MARS members raise awareness of sexual assault at Miami University of Ohio. (Photo: Chase Halter)
Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault Club President Gabriel Hansen, center right, and his fellow club members raise awareness of sexual assault at Miami University of Ohio. (Chase Halter)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s note: This story pairs with another titled “Researchers say the psychology behind rape is complex.” 

All-male organizations across the country are seeking to engage men in the fight against sexual assault, including a group here in the Beehive State.

The Men’s Anti-violence Network of Utah is a state-wide nonprofit comprised of business, education, community and government leaders dedicated to involving men in local efforts to snuff out this social issue.

One of the nonprofit’s volunteers Marty Liccardo said the organization wants men to get involved however possible, whether its volunteering at a rape crisis center or discussing sexual assault prevention with community groups.

“We’d be as excited about Boy Scout leaders talking to their troops about healthy relationships and good communication,” Liccardo said.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally, so there will additional focus in the near future on bringing the issue to public consciousness.

Liccardo said one of the Men’s Anti-violence Network of Utah’s goals is to help men understand sexual violence is not a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue. He said he believes this because 98 percent of perpetrators of all forms of sexual violence against women are male, according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

The organization focuses on bystander prevention, training men about who to contact if they suspect violent behavior and how to confront peers who use sexist language. The issue may be slowly moving more into the consciousness of students and local residents.

The Men’s Anti-violence Network of Utah is one of many all-male groups that actively opposes sexual assault. Some groups are college-student run. So far, there is no anti-sexual assault organization for men on the BYU campus, but several college campuses in the United States have Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault clubs.

Daniel Lorrio and others at a MARS training session for both new and old members. (Photo: Will Altabef)
Northwestern University Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault club members attend a training meeting. (Will Altabef)

The Daily Universe interviewed three Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault presidents, each of whom knew a friend who had been sexually assaulted and decided to do something about it.

Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault is an all-male college organization that raises awareness about sexual assault on a national and campus level.
Gabriel Hansen, Zeeshan Mallick and Daniel Loizzo are the club presidents at Miami University of Ohio, University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University. They each have different approaches to leading their branches of the organization, but their clubs have the same mission: to get men involved.
Each group meets once or twice a week to discuss sexual violence and plan club activities. They sponsor events to raise awareness and give presentations to different groups on and off campus. The presentations cover different aspects of sexual assault: consent, rape myths, party culture, masculinity and active bystanders.

The three presidents said their male peers are more likely to listen to them because they are an all-male group. Loizzo said the reason the club was started at Northwestern University was because male students got defensive when their female peers tried to explain the seriousness of sexual assault to them.

“The fraternity men would just not listen to them or believe them because they felt like they were getting talked down to, yelled at and blamed like it was entirely their fault, which drove a lot of animosity toward the issue,” Loizzo said. “A lot of men might get defensive whether the woman is being accusatory or not. It’s just a natural defense mechanism around this sensitive of an issue.”
All three groups focus on engaging fraternities because a disproportionate number of sexual assaults happen within a fraternity or sorority community, according to the club presidents. Hansen said his group does not talk down to the Greek life community, but tries to get them to participate in events and become a solution to the problem.

This video explores what male BYU students think about men fighting against sexual assault. (CreelaBelle Howard)

All three men get the same primary concerns from fraternities: alcohol and false rape accusations. Frats want to know where the line is, how much alcohol is too much and how to ensure consent. They also worry the woman will wake up after an encounter and accuse them of rape.

Mallick said he blames the media for this irrational fear. The news blows false rape accusation stories out of proportion, so men think such cases are more prevalent than they actually are, according to Mallick. He said men do not understand how much women have to do to get legal justice after they are raped.
“No one wants to go through that process to get a rape kit and talk to the police,” Mallick said. “Men assume a woman says it, and the guy gets arrested.”
Hansen said he tells the frats at Miami University of Ohio that only about 2 to 8 percent of reported rapes are false reporting, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 2012 False Reporting Overview.
“I always tell them that means 92 to 98 percent of rape accusations are not fabricated,” Hansen said. “I think upon hearing that statistic, they realize it is not a good argument to make because it’s so rare. I also say the majority of sexual assault and rape is done by repeat offenders. That helps them realize it’s a prevalent issue.”
Hansen, Mallick and Loizzo said men should get involved with groups like Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.
“Anyone should be concerned about this,” Loizzo said. “It’s happening in our society.”
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