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New male sexual assault program HEATs up

A new program within Help, Empower and Teach will seek to educate students about an often unseen population – males that have been sexually assaulted.

HEAT’s new male sexual assault presentation will cover how men can protect themselves and their friends from sexual assault, or rape, as well as sexual abuse and sexual harassment, said Jay Hamilton-Roque, HEAT’s sexual assault awareness chair.

About 3 percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

In 2003, one in every 10 rape victims were male, but men are the least likely to report a sexual assault to the police.

“I think [male sexual assaults] happens more frequently than people think,” said Chase Agnoletti, junior construction management major. “I just don’t think guys really want to admit to the fact that they were raped.”

The presentation will also explain how men may unintentionally commit sexual assault and how men should gain proper consent from a partner before any sexual contact, Hamilton-Roque said.

He said that many do not understand what is considered sexual assault, and that blood alcohol factors are a common reason for this, even among married couples.

Agnoletti said that portion of the presentation would also be beneficial to men.

“There’s a fine line between rape and being too drunk to realize what you’re doing,” he said. “Where is that line drawn? I feel like the majority of guys would just say ‘I was blacked out, I don’t know what happened’ instead of saying ‘I got raped.’ ”

Hamilton-Roque said the presentation’s goal is to explain how sexual abuse and assault affects males as much as females.

“Our culture really does not have a good understanding, or respect, for males being sexually assaulted,” he said.

Junior nursing major Sam Scheeler said she agreed, since it’s more understandable for women to discuss rape than men.

“When a girl gets raped it’s more understandable that it happened because she’s most likely not as strong as the guy who raped her,” she said. “But I think guys just don’t bring it up because they are embarrassed it happened.”

HEAT’s presentation also includes information on how men can help prevent sexual assault by using non-derogatory language about sexual partners and spotting warning signs that could indicate sexual assault.

“As we came across more information affecting males exclusively with sexual assault, there was a natural progression towards the creation of the presentation,” Hamilton-Roque said.

The presentation also includes information on how to help a friend if he has been sexually assaulted.

Junior international business major Phil Arnone said he thinks the program will provide awareness about an overlooked issue.

However, Arnone said he doesn’t know how common the issue is.

He said he would be surprised to hear males he knew were raped and acknowledged there is a stigma attached to male rape.

HEAT implemented the program by giving presentations at fraternities, but Hamilton-Roque said the organization hopes to increase awareness on Bradley’s campus during Sexual Assault Awareness Week in April.

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