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‘It had taken over my life.’

April 17, 2015 News

How one traumatic night for a student became a six-month struggle with Murray State.

Editor’s Note: The Murray State News changed the name of the woman and decided to not name the alleged perpetrator or any other students involved.

It took Lily Smith two days to fully understand she had been raped.

She said as she stood in the shower thinking about the events of Nov. 7, 2014, she wished the hot water running over her head were acid, eating away flesh and memories.

“If I didn’t ask for this, then what does that make it? The shock of the word ‘rape’ hit me,” Smith said.

It took another three days for her to gather the courage to come forward about what happened. … Continue Reading

Take Back the Night rally held Monday

April 3, 2015 Features
Kalli Bubb/The News Students fill Racer Arena to take part in the Women Center’s annual Take Back the Night rally Monday night.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Students fill Racer Arena to take part in the Women Center’s annual Take Back the Night rally Monday night.

(WITH VIDEO) – Monday night saw the return of the Murray State Women’s Center’s Take Back the Night rally to raise awareness of sexual assault, and this year it focused on what bystanders can do to help.

At 6 p.m. in Racer Arena, Student Government Association President Michael Dobbs and Residential College Association President Paula Jaco began the evening as the masters of ceremony.

The duo introduced Kyle “Guante” Tran, a traveling spoken word artist who performed twice over the duration of the program.

Guante’s first poem spoke to men’s responsibility to talk to other men about ending sexual violence and to be proactive instead of reactive. His second analogized consent to a variety of humorous scenarios, in which all of the participants were all 100 percent OK with what was going on. He said consent is like checking if someone has their parachute when skydiving – it should be checked every time.

In between Guante’s performances was Anne Jablinski’s survivor story. Jablinski, senior from Murphy, Texas, gave a message of inspiration. … Continue Reading

Test screens for eating disorders

April 3, 2015 News

The Murray State Counseling Center is introducing the Healthy Body Image Program, a research initiative to promote health and wellness on campus.

  By screening students for eating disorders and increasing access to care for body image issues at Murray State, the center can help students better manage their health, said counselor Sarah Kerrick. 

  The program starts with an online evaluation, used to understand each person’s behavior and level of self-esteem.

The test results will determine which program fits a student’s individual needs. 

  Once enrolled, the Healthy Body Image members can access their 8-10 week program via web or mobile app.

Program members can also connect with other users and a virtual coach for support and feedback.

  The program is run through a study at Washington University in St. Louis and Stanford University and will run for two years. … Continue Reading

Exhibit tells story, portrays violent relationship

October 31, 2014 Features, Slider Featured stories
Jenny Rohl/The News Ryan Baker, sophomore from Murray, reads the last diary entry of the fictional Jenna in the Crazy in Love exhibit.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Ryan Baker, sophomore from Murray, reads the last diary entry of the fictional Jenna in the Crazy in Love exhibit.

On average, three women are killed everyday by a current or former intimate partner in America.

This story is a fictional portrayal of a relationship from a  walk-through of  the Women’s Center exhibit Crazy in Love, although statistics say this kind of scenario plays out every day.

Jenna was great student. She was an active member in a sorority, did well on tests and received multiple scholarships. When she met the love of her life, Chris, it seemed as though everything was working out for her. She would live happily ever after.

During Jenna’s few short months with Chris, she was incredibly happy. He took her out on Valentine’s Day. He surprised her with her favorite flowers and told her how beautiful she was everyday.

After Jenna decided to move in with him and commit her life to Chris, their relationship turned from sweet to sour.

He began controlling who she hung out with and what she wore. He began degrading her body and making her feel worthless. Jenna knew that Chris loved her, so she pushed thoughts of breaking up aside, and instead chalked up his behavior to some mistake on her part.

Chris’s verbal abuse escalated and Jenna’s fear persisted. He left notes on her magazines saying things like, “this girl is so hot, I wish you looked like her” and “you better clean up this house before I get home.”

Each day, Jenna made an excuse for Chris. When he refused to let her see her family on weekends, she told herself that he’s just lonely and he wants to be with her. When he told her she was flirting with other men, she told herself he knew what was best and to trust he loved her despite what he said.

The verbal abuse turned into physical abuse, resulting in Jenna breaking up with Chris. After she thought she was free of his abuse, Chris began stalking Jenna. When she finally had enough and filed a restraining order against Chris, he lashed out and in a fit of rage, stabbing and killing her.

The Murray State Women’s Center put together this story in order to teach students how to spot problems in a potentially abusive relationship and how to stop it before it happens.

Symptoms of abuse in a relationship include:

  • Playing with emotions: putting the victim down, calling the partner names, humiliating the victim, making the other partner feel guilty.
  • Using male privilege: treating a female partner like a servant, making all decisions, defining men’s and women’s roles in a relationship.
  • Using coercion and threats: making or carrying out threats to hurt the partner, threatening to leave or to commit suicide.
  • Using intimidation: making the partner afraid, smashing objects, abusing pets, showing weapons.
  • Using isolation: controlling what the victim does, who the victim sees and talks to, what the victim reads and where the victim goes, using jealousy to justify actions.
  • Visible physical injury and illnesses: bruises lacerations, burns, human bite marks, stress-related illness like headaches, chronic paid, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disorders and eating disorders.
  • Denying, blaming: making light of the abuse, saying the abuse didn’t happen, blaming abusive behavior on drinking or stress, saying the victim caused the abuse.

If someone in a relationship relates to any of the symptoms above, he or she may be in a potentially abusive relationship. If a friend or family member sees any of these symptoms in a relationship, he or she can do the following things to help:

Be a friend. Show that you care for the victim and are willing to listen to him or her.

Guide the victim to a counseling service or center where he or she can talk about the abuse and seek safety from the partner.

Help the victim make a safety plan. Suggest phone numbers the victim can call in case of an emergency and suggest that he or she have an escape plan.

In order to stop abusive relationships and unprecedented deaths, all men and women should be aware of the symptoms of abusive partners and be aware of where to turn if worse comes to worse.

Story by Madison WepferStaff writer

Crazy in Love to shed light on abusive relationships

October 24, 2014 Features

Every minute, 24 people become victims of rape, physical violence or stalking, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. A large portion of those victims either attend or are employed by universities.

In regard to Domestic and Dating Violence Awareness Month the Women’s Center is hosting its annual interactive walk-through exhibit, Crazy in Love.

The exhibit is open from noon until 4 p.m. Monday, and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, the exhibit is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Curris Center ballroom.

“I think it gives students a tangible way to look at an issue that is not out in the open and doesn’t have a lot of light shed on it,” said Stephanie Smith, senior student worker at the Women’s Center. “It gives you a base to look at and think, do you see this in your relationship or someone you’re close to.”

Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center, said the exhibit includes five different rooms emulating the different stages of domestic violence in a relationship. The rooms have a bed, a desk and other common bedroom items. It also includes a video journal, narrating a young woman’s relationship with her partner.

“You get to see what she’s writing in her diary and how the focus of the couple shifts from being friends and being social to very demanding and very strict and structured,” French said. “It’s a very interactive-type thing. You see that relationship develop from what would seem like a normal relationship into a very unhealthy relationship. You get to see that cycle of violence.”

French said the purpose of the exhibit is to educate college students about how to spot early signs of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault in a relationship.

“They (students who walk through the exhibit) see things like this person being isolated from their friends. They see things like those ‘I’m sorry’ flowers and cancelled plans and different things that make participants aware of some of those warning signs,” French said.

It’s obvious to see a problem in a relationship when two people are arguing, but the subtle signs are more difficult to identify, French said. She said environmental and nonverbal clues are what students need to be aware of so potential dating and domestic violence can be prevented.

When in a circumstance with domestic or dating violence, one should talk to the victim and make them aware of the facts of the situation.

Skylar Oakley, junior student worker at the Women’s Center, said talking should be the first step, but there’s only so much a friend or family member can do to help.

“You can confront them and talk to them but you can’t change anything,” Oakley said. “Another reason we do this event is so victims can start to think about, ‘has that happened to me?’”

Compared to other universities, French said Murray State is no better or worse than the majority of college campuses in the U.S. However, the problem is victims reporting these acts.

French said many victims are afraid to come forward and tell someone about the issues they are facing with their partner because of the consequences that may ensue within the relationship. Therefore, it is important for friends and families to be educated about the signs so they can recognize when a loved one may be in a violent relationship.

“Interpersonal violence is extremely under-reported,” French said. “Especially with dating and domestic violence, there could be some very severe consequences if that partner found out that you talked to a counselor or an advocate or the police, so there’s a lot of fear about reporting.”

Even if it isn’t being reported, that does not mean it is not happening, French said.

“If we can make you aware right here of these things that are unhealthy, then that can keep you from ever getting to the point where it’s extremely dangerous,” French said.

Story by Madison WepferStaff writer

Take Back the Night date moved

September 19, 2014 News

Between 600 and 700 students will have to wait until the spring semester before they can attend the Women’s Center annual Take Back the Night event.

The new date for Take Back the Night is now March 30, as opposed to being held in September, and will still be held on Cutchin Field.

The date will be in time for Kentucky’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month in March and the National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

The annual event, held to raise awareness to fight sexual assault and violence, has been held during the fall semester previously, but the move is to align the event with other initiatives and increase attendance.

Last year, a few hundred students attended Take Back the Night. The theme was making sure rape and sexual assault didn’t define a person’s character.

Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center, said the Purchase Area Sexual Assault Center holds many of its initiatives during March and April, and the Women’s Center wants to partner with them to bring those initiatives to campus.

“It fits with a lot of what the community does to move it to that time,” French said.

While the date aligns well with awareness month and other sexual assault awareness events, French said the move also falls during the beginning of Greek Week.

She said typically 500 Greek members attend Take Back the Night and the Women’s Center wanted to move it to a time when those organizations can take advantage of the event and continue to be big supporters.

The date change is not the only difference attendees will notice.

The Women’s Center is also changing the theme focus on bystander intervention.

French said it is estimated that one-third of sexual assaults occur in the presence of a bystander, and she said that if a bystander were to intervene, one-third of assault could be prevented.

“We really want to begin to focus on educating students about bystander intervention, what that means, how they can be involved at their comfort level by giving them real, practical options for doing that,” she said.

She said the survivor stories that have been told in the past have been great, but have left some students feeling helpless.

With the theme of bystander intervention, French hopes students can better know how to prevent sexual assault.

By sharing stories of intervention, French said the idea behind the theme is that it will normalize the behavior and see intervention as something students can do to help others.

Paige Wilson, senior from Warsaw, Ky., said she thinks the date change coincides well with Greek Week and believes it is important for Greek members to know how to prevent sexual assault.

As a member of Greek Life, she said the organizations hold a large number of events and parties, making the possibility of sexual assault more likely.

Because of this, she said Greeks should know what to do and how to help each other in those situations.

Wilson said she thinks a bystander intervention theme will be good change, but that the victim stories shared in the past were influential for attendees and therapeutic for victims.

She said she could understand how students are left feeling hopeless after Take Back the Night, and the bystander intervention theme can provide a solution to student hopelessness.

“I feel like they can sometimes leave you hanging on a cliff,” she said. “You’re left like, ‘oh my gosh, I have all this emotion’, and then they don’t bring (attendees) back down to a solution or what we can do. It would help for students to know what they can do and what we as a campus can do.”


Story by Mary Bradley, Assistant News Editor


Sexual assault victims can reach out

September 12, 2014 Our View, Slider Featured stories

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

Katie Wilborn/The News

Katie Wilborn/The News

The looming reality of sexual assault, especially on college campuses, has been a national discussion after reports of schools ineffectively handling cases surfaced.

We are not naive enough to believe that this isn’t a possibility at Murray State, and fortunately, there are multiple outlets and protections available for people who have been a victim of sexual assault.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six American women have been the victim of some sort of sexual assault in their lifetimes and the most vulnerable age for someone to be assaulted is between ages 12 and 34.

Assault victims of any gender have psychological resources such as the Women’s Center, which provides counseling services and educates people on issues like domestic violence and suicide awareness.

Other than psychological well-being, physical health is a real risk in cases of sexual assault.

Health Services provides valuable services in this area. Health Services can provide assessment to physical injuries as well as provide laboratory services for pregnancy tests and sexually transmitted diseases.

Health Services is available for free to enrolled students and full-time faculty and staff. All information from checkups is required to remain confidential.

Checking up on one’s personal condition should be the first step for someone who is a victim of sexual assault, but it is also important to reach out to authorities or investigators. To report an incident of sexual assault or file a complaint or grievance against any school employee, students can go to the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access. A few of the focuses include educating students, faculty and staff about their rights and responsibilities with respect to harassment and discrimination. Staff at IDEA can investigate, process and assist in resolving illegal discrimination and harassment complaints.

Claims made by one student against another student should be made to the vice president of Student Affairs or a formal report can be made at Public Safety and Emergency Management.

Reporting incidents is as important as seeking medical or psychological help because it could prevent someone else from also becoming a victim.

Murray State recognizes the seriousness and reality of sexual harassment, which is why the University provides multiple avenues for educating, investigating and preventing these crimes. It is our responsibility as students to know about them so we are better prepared.

We should not be ashamed to reach out for help, whether it is for ourselves or for a friend.

Victims of sexual harassment may be left feeling isolated, ashamed or to blame. We should take advantage of educational seminars about sexual harassment, such as the rape, sexual assault and violence risk reduction seminar held Monday.

It’s not too late. More seminars are scheduled and they aren’t just for women.

The “Be A Man” seminar is scheduled for Oct. 20, 22 and 23, and it teaches how to express personal integrity, responsibility and accountability.

Encourage friends, sexual partners, classmates and those close to to you to educate themselves so we can all potentially prevent these crimes from happening. It’s time to step up and do something.

Campus event to educate on suicide prevention

September 5, 2014 Features

In the time it takes a person to watch an average TV commercial, someone, somewhere has lost a battle.

Every 40 seconds, someone takes their own life. This statistic adds up to approximately 800,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

During the second week of September, people from around the globe participate in different activities, lectures and events to raise awareness for issues such as depression and suicide.

Groups and organizations like the WHO and To Write Love On Her Arms work to educate people on the stigmas surrounding suicide and depression during World Suicide Prevention Week.

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 15 percent of graduate and 18 percent of undergraduate students have seriously considered attempting suicide.

These statistics show that the issue is relevant to college campuses, and that Murray State is no exception.

“September is a month that is dedicated to raising awareness of a variety of issues on college campuses such as safety, depression, suicide and sexual assault,” said Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center. “Suicide Prevention week gives us a chance to join the national initiative, but also have a general focus on resources available to students.”

To direct students, faculty and staff to the right sources, The Women’s Center will host an event called “Speak Out” on the Carr Health Building lawn Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“Speak Out” invites students to be actively involved in suicide prevention through games, quizzes and prizes.

“We’re working on a series of life-size board games for students to play and learn about the resources available on campus,” French said. “There will be giveaways, prizes and plenty of information for students and faculty.”

Campus will also be decorated with cardboard life preservers with helpful tips and statistics associated with suicide prevention.

French’s goal for Suicide Prevention Week is to raise awareness about the campus resources, but also to help students feel less skeptical about using those resources.

“The idea is to raise awareness about resources,” French said. “(Depression) is a common occurrence on college campuses and it is OK to reach out and ask for help. I think it is also important that they have a face to associate with the counseling center so they feel more comfortable to ask for help.”


Story by Hunter Harrell, Features Editor 

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