Cuccinelli: Leader in Sexual Assault PreventionPolitics

Over the past year, two friends have shared their experience of recent sexual assault with me. Other courageous friends have spoken out about the sexual abuse they experienced as teens. The statistics are shocking: one in four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday.

Many who learn about sexual assault look the other way. Some grieve privately with their friends. Some downplay the problem and make excuses for perpetrators or attack the credibility of victims. A few courageous men and women stand up for victims rights and work to prevent sexual assault in the future.

Dr. Jackson Katz, gender violence educator, author and founder of MVP Strategies, calls this last group of individuals true leaders. Katz believes that a crucial component to combating violence against women is men who decide to speak up against abusive attitudes and actions: “leadership is stepping forward when no one else does,” he says.

Ken_Cuccinelli_02 (WinCE)Ken Cuccinelli is just such a leader.

In the summer of 1989, Cuccinelli, then a college student at the University of Virginia, learned that his friend was the victim of attempted sexual assault. He could not be a disinterested bystander. “I started learning more about sexual assault on campus,” Cuccinelli recalls.

“I was alarmed to learn that the main danger was not what happened at my house that summer – assault by a stranger – rather, the primary danger on a college campus was sexual assault by someone the victim knows. I began trying to figure out ways to attack the problem. Looking around the country, there was nothing that I could find that college students were doing to specifically target date rape and acquaintance assaults. So, I started planning and recruiting to start something new.”

Cuccinelli’s research became the focus of his women’s study class, where he received an “A” for researching and developing an informational pamphlet for incoming students on the subject of sexual assault. He co-organized a 134 hour student protest (one hour for each reported sexual assault the prior year), which led the university to hire a full-time sexual assault coordinator. Cuccinelli also spearheaded a campus program called S.A.F.E.: Sexual Assault: Facts and Education, recruited about 20 other students to help him as peer educators, and arranged training from the Charlottesville Sexual Assault Resource Agency. He also negotiated a small budget from UVA administration to pay for training materials. “Off we went,” Cuccinelli explains.

“We would visit student groups, fraternities, sororities, dorms, whatever kind of group would sit and listen. Once we were in front of our audiences, we were very blunt in delivering our educational information. All with the hope that we could help prevent future assaults, and offer some help for those who had already suffered from an assault.”

S.A.F.E. is now one of three peer education groups at UVA coordinated by the Sexual Assault Leadership Council. Students can also receive assistance from Sexual and Domestic Violence Services at UVA’s Women’s Center. Today, these resources are expected on any large campus but they are there because a group of students stood up against a campus culture that used to ignore victims of sexual assault.

Jackson Katz believes it’s time to stop calling violence against women “a women’s issue.” “I’m suggesting that we need to say it’s a men’s problem. We need to say it’s a men’s issue… We need a whole lot more men involved and we need a paradigm shift in our thinking,” says Katz.

For Ken Cuccinelli, it’s been his issue for more than 20 years.

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Note: This writer is formerly employed by Ken Cuccinelli.

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  • http://www.southsidecentral.com/ Bruce Hedrick

    Sadly, everything written here goes up in smoke when Democrats mention “trans-vaginal ultrasound”.

    • George from Cleveland

      Because personal responsibility is eeevil…

  • DJRippert

    What has Mr. Cuccinelli done about this in the 24 years since 1989? You know – the time he spent in the state legislature and as Attorney General. The problem with this vignette is that it seems like you can’t find anything compassionate in Cuccinelli’s life without going back to his days as a college undergraduate.

    How about one vote in the General Assembly supporting this compassionate conservatism schtick?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512733537 Eve Marie Barner Gleason

      Oh DJ, you haven’t been paying much attention have you?

  • WomenForKen

    DJRippert – the following was taken from the http://www.womenforken.com website. Hopefully is helps explain his work in the depth you are looking for!

    Ken Cuccinelli’s record of fighting the exploitation of women is not just a position that he takes, it is clearly an extension of who he is.

    As a student at the University of Virginia, Ken helped establish the student-led group, Sexual Assault Facts and Education (SAFE). The group still exists on UVA’s campus today.

    Ken helped organize the successful student protests that led to the university employing a full time sexual assault education coordinator. The protest lasted for 134 hours on the steps of the historic Rotunda – one hour for every reported victim of sexual assault at the university the previous year.

    As Attorney General, Cuccinelli’s office works to protect victims of domestic violence—most often, women—by producing an annual report on the issue and promoting the best practices from other areas of the country that have developed creative responses to domestic and sexual violence.

    In 2006, Ken co-sponsored successful legislation which protects victims of domestic violence from being unfairly evicted from their homes, an issue that affects a disproportionately large number of women.

    While serving in the VA General Assembly, Cuccinelli supported multiple bills dealing with human trafficking.

    A recognized leader in combating human trafficking, Ken was appointed to the Human Trafficking Commission which worked to develop and implement a plan for the prevention of human trafficking in Virginia.

    • DJRippert

      This is your strongest point:

      “In 2006, Ken co-sponsored successful legislation which protects victims of domestic violence from being unfairly evicted from their homes, an issue that affects a disproportionately large number of women.”.

      He co-sponsored the bill.
      It seems to require a choice between the rights of the leaseholder or landlord and women.
      It happened long after Cuccielli left college.

    • UVAcoverups

      Ken, it’s been how many years since you advocated against sexual assault at UVA. UVA recently admitted that they have never expelled any student for sexual assault. Yes they have probably expelled over a thousand students for cheating but never for sexual assault. As AG are you not alarmed at this statistic. As AG have you ever considered investigating the sinister cover ups of rapes at UVA? As AG have you ever investigated the conflicts of interests that exist between local law enforcement and UVA?

      Ken is a fake!

      “As Attorney General, Cuccinelli’s office works to protect victims of
      domestic violence—most often, women—by producing an annual report on the
      issue and promoting the best practices from other areas of the country
      that have developed creative responses to domestic and sexual violence.”

      This is a bold face lie! UVA has silenced victims for years. The Commonwealth Attorney in Charlottesville is a UVA grad and a UVA Law Grad. The C’ville chief of police is compromised because his wife is a UVA employee. The former (as of July ’13) deputy Commonwealth Attorney is married to the UVA forensic nurse that examines UVA victims of SA, yet not one UVA perp has been prosecuted!

      Ken, not only do you have conflicts when it comes to your finances but you have totally ignored an issue that involves 1 in 4 girls who attend UVA. The entire country knows colleges are covering up sexual assault and instead you chose to pursue UVA on climate change. I guess UVA covering up rapes is not a felony in Virginia. Girls are unimportant to your campaign. It’s all about you Ken.

  • MD Russ

    An interesting story that brings a tear to my eye. Now, tell us about how Attorney General Cuccinelli fought to protect the academic freedom of UVA professors from abusive government intrusion into their professional papers and emails.

  • http://www.southsidecentral.com/ Bruce Hedrick

    It would be interesting to see Gleason come back to her article and defend against these comments.

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