October 23, 2021

‘Don’t be ashamed of your story’

SUNY Cortland kicks off month to raise awareness of dating violence

Photos by Catherine Wilde/contributing photographer

Cyrenius Nelson, a SUNY Cortland senior and member of Students Active For Ending Rape, writes “Stand together no-one is alone” on a T-shirt Monday evening. The shirts will be displayed at the club’s events during April, which is sexual assault awareness month.

In neat writing, Christina Hatzinikolaou printed out these words Monday night in Sharpie on a T-shirt in a room in Corey Union at SUNY Cortland: “Don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.”

Hatzinikolaou, a junior at SUNY Cortland, isn’t ashamed of her story of sexual assault. She will tell it April 17 at SUNY Cortland’s Take Back the Night — one of several events planned this month to mark Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Hatzinikolaou and about 20 other members of the Students Active For Ending Rape assembled to create the shirts, which will be displayed across campus.

Sexual assault in the United States

• One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lives.
• One in three women and one in six men in America have experienced sexual violence.
• 51 percent of females were raped by an intimate partner, 41 percent were raped by an acquaintance
• 53 percent of males were raped by an acquaintance, 15 percent by a stranger
• 91 percent of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, 9 percent are male.
Source: The National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Getting help

For assistance with sexual assault or domestic violence:
• In an emergency, call 911.
• Call the New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline for assistance and options: 1-800-942-6906/NYC: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or 311.
Source: The New York State Department of Health

“We need to talk about it more,” Hatzinikolaou said. “So many people are very uncomfortable with it but the more it’s talked about, the more knowledgeable people will be and informing people will lower the rates of incidents that happen.”

Activities like what SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College have planned for the month of April are good, said Linda Glover, program director at the Cortland YWCA’s Aid to Victims of Violence program.

“It’s hard sometimes to get students, to get their attention with things,” she said. “So when you can have a large gathering and maybe do something fun, it’s just a better chance for people like us and people at the SUNY Title IX department, to instill some thoughts into their heads.”

Glover said that very often in the wake of a sexual assault, people, particularly college students, don’t know what to do. That’s why the Aid to Victims of Violence program has two sexual assault advocates who pair with the colleges to help inform students.

Glover said they make three points:
• Seek medical attention. Guthrie Cortland Medical Center has a sexual assault nurse examiner who will perform a forensic rape exam.

• Preserve the evidence. Don’t take a shower although you may want to, and preserve clothes or even drinks that may have been tainted.

• Call the Aid to Victims of Violence hotline at 607-756-6363 to speak with an advocate. Before Hatzinikolaou was assaulted, she said, she was uncomfortable speaking up to stop anything from happening to others.

That’s changed. She now knows about Green Dot Bystander Intervention, a bystander intervention approach that aims to prevent violence.

“Talking about it will make people more aware that it’s not OK and that it needs to be stopped,” she said.

Activities at SUNY Cortland and TC3

• Today: Trained student, faculty and staff facilitators will conduct a workshop on dating violence 7 to 8:30 p.m. in room 105 of Sperry Center.
• Sunday: Yards for Yeardley. SUNY Cortland’s third annual Yards for Yeardley walking event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. in the Lusk Field House.
• April 10: TC3 has its own Yards for Yeardley event on the Dryden campus. The goal is to walk 1.5 million yards.
• April 24: Behind the Post, exploring how social media posts can hide troubled or abusive relationships, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 209 of Corey Union.
• April 24: Denim Day. People are encouraged to wear denim to raise awareness for sexual assault.
• April 24: TC3’s Take Back the Night march will be noon to 1:30 p.m