Across the country reported forcible sexual assaults are up on college campuses. The governor’s task force on combating sexual violence is hoping to bring those numbers down in Virginia and the issue was amplified after a Rolling Stone article came out alleging a gang rape at UVa.
The task force, former by Governor Terry McAuliffe back in August, met for the first time on Thursday since questions were raised about the validity of a Rolling Stones article detailing a sexual assault at the University of Virginia.
“It was a good shock into reality that we had to accept that this is a reality and that this is something that needs to be addressed,” VCU Student Body President Brandon Day told 8News reporter Mark Tenia.
But editors of the article have since backed off saying they may have misplaced their trust in the alleged victim as facts were disputed. Tammy Slovinsky, an expert in the field, says just because the facts have been questioned doesn’t mean the assault didn’t occur as details are often hazy with victims.
“Trauma affects the brain, it affects our physiological response to a traumatic event such as a car accident, sexual assault and it can impact our ability to recall information, to recall details of an assault,” Slovinsky said.
Slovinsky and others say while questions have been raised about the article, they believe it’s helped in the task force’s mission.
“I knew we were experiencing some cultural change when i heard (radio station) Lite 98 talking about it, you’re talking about it,” Slovinsky said.
Attorney General Mark Herring said, “There has been considerable attention drawn to the issue, i think increased awareness is a good thing.”
“As long as that opportunity for dialogue exists, that’s something we can work with,” Day added.
They say no matter what, there are countless victims at colleges that need help across the country.
The task force will present recommendations on combating college sexual assaults June 1st.