I am writing in response to the opinion piece written by Gene Lyons titled "Sex on Campus," published Sept. 21, on behalf of all sexual assault crisis centers in Arkansas and other advocates who work with victims of rape and/or sexual assault. We are compelled to set the record straight with facts about sexual assault, the brain and body's response to traumatic events, and the usefulness of Title IX to address victimizations on campuses.
Lyons included incomplete research and harmful inaccuracies in his opinion piece, as did Emily Yoffe in her recent articles in The Atlantic on the topic. Publishing incomplete and misinformation does a disservice to the public and limits our community's ability to understand the scope and impact of sexual assault.
Questioning the validity of science that seeks to understand the body's response to trauma discredits victims of sexual violence and other traumatic events. While biological and emotional responses to sexual assault vary, it is widely agreed upon that when the brain perceives a threat, there are common brain-based responses. The science behind the neurobiology of trauma is real and has been ongoing for decades. Yoffe herself makes the argument when she asserts, "being assaulted is traumatic and no one should expect those who have been assaulted to have
Though he includes an obligatory clause saying, "[his article] is in no way to minimize rape," Lyons' opinion does, in fact, "minimize rape." Rape is a serious and widespread problem. As noted by the National Sexual Violence Resource
It seems Lyons does not care much for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her attacks on public schools, which makes his opinion piece all the more perplexing as it seems to scoff at attacks on public school students. The Title IX system has only begun working for victims of sexual assault. Yes, it has been a bumpy road. No, we have not found it to be a perfect system. Nor is the criminal court system, it is worth noting. Campus disciplinary processes and the protections against gender-based discrimination and resulting hostile environments provided by Title IX offer options to victims of sexual violence that allow them to continue their education while seeking remedies for what was done to them. Once people who have been sexually abused or raped feel safe and understand the reporting process, more reports will be made. This is to be expected. This is a sign the system is beginning to work.
Lyons' opinion that, "It's not a criminal matter, you see. Merely one's educational and professional future that can be at stake," is as outrageous as it is appalling. A victim of sexual violence is often left with emotional difficulties that impact the rest of their life; their education is disrupted, as are their relationships with friends,
Finally, Lyons shows his true colors when, in the same article, he attempts to debunk the science of trauma, yet writes "...
Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault Little Rock
Sports vs. religion
Has anyone else noticed that