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Organizations, lawmakers making changes to protect students at universities during Sexual Assault Awareness month

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - April is sexual assault awareness month, and after this year, organizations and lawmakers are on a mission to make changes to protect students at universities.

Statically, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), younger people between the ages of 12 and 34 are more likely to be at risk of sexual violence, and for victims, they will have to carry that traumatizing experience with them for the rest of their lives.

“Victims, we may say that we’re doing awareness this month, but the victims have to live with this trauma month after month after month, 365 days of the year,” says C. Denise Marcelle, who is a state representative for District 61.

RELATED: Reported sexual assault on LSU campus allegedly involving student-athlete under investigation

For the past few weeks, multiple women gave their testimonies against LSU students and student-athletes accused of sexual misconduct, and how they believe LSU failed to properly handle the sexual assault cases. It is now prompting the Women and Children Senate Committee to make changes, that way this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“How we’ve looked at it in the past, we say there were partying, they’re students, they are in fraternities, they’re in sororities…has nothing to do with it. Nobody should be sexually harassed regardless, and we’ve got to change the culture here in Louisiana,” adds Marcelle.

The focus is now on breaking the cycle, to look at victims, predators and those in superior roles.

RELATED: LSU releases law firm’s review of sexual misconduct cases; two athletic officials suspended

“Certainly counseling for those who were involved in it on both sides because we certainly need to look out for the victims and the people who have harmed them, or harmed them by not following through on actions that they were the superiors. They were the ones in authority,” says Marcelle.

That’s why the Louisiana Victim Outreach Program (LAVO) is putting on a free webinar to give counseling and treatment for all parties involved.

“The focus is on how do we repair harm with the folks who are perpetrating it. So, it’s really on those individuals who perpetuated sexual harm, what are the treatments and solutions for the folks,” says Julie Collura, who is the social services director for LAVO.

It takes a long time for victims to process what they’ve been through, but advocates hope fighting for change and giving victims more resources will help speed the healing up.

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