‘The Hunting Ground’: what everyone is, or is not, talking about

By Cheryl Bowdridge

Special to The PREVIEW

Lady Gaga began the conversation with her song, “Till It Happens To you,” and the film creator of “The Hunting Ground” opened our nation’s eyes with the documentary that colleges are desperately trying to cover up. It is the elephant in the room, the one subject that nobody wants to talk about — sexual assault — and where it occurs most — on college campuses.

Sexual assault will happen to one in five women this year on college campuses across the nation unless we and our young people take a stand against it.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program (ACVAP) is bringing to you the featured film that everyone is talking about, “The Hunting Ground.”

This documentary is making worldwide impact, from showings at the White House to winning multiple awards for best documentary.

Join us at Pagosa Springs High School at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, for food and refreshments, visit our information tables and take the White Ribbon Pledge. At 6 p.m., we will show the featured film, “The Hunting Ground,” and have a question-and-discussion session after the film is over.

While one in five women and one in seven men are being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, most people don’t realize that sexual assault occurs every day.

Sexual assault most often occurs between two people in an intimate partner relationship. It is not the stranger in the dark alley that we need to warn our kids about. It is the friend that offers to take them home after a party or the cute senior who invites them to the back-to-school party.

It is the “hunting ground” that we need to warn them about. We need to educate our children and make sure they know how to protect themselves.

We need to teach our young adults how to ask for consent and how to give consent. Most young adults do not realize that you cannot give or obtain consent for any sexual conduct when one or the other person is impaired by drugs or alcohol.

The laws are changing around sexual assault. It is no longer just the fact that somebody says they don’t want sex. It is a matter of did they say they did want it, and were they in the right frame of mind to make that decision? Just because they said “yes” two weeks ago doesn’t constitute a “yes” for this moment and it is this moment that we need to make our kids aware of.

Last year, ACVAP served 26 victims/survivors of sexual assault. We understand that this is not a subject that people like to talk about; however, educating people about sexual assault is the best way to prevent it from happening to you, your kids, your friends, and your loved ones.

Don’t miss this invaluable opportunity to witness insights of survivors and a growing network of activists working to end sexual assault in their communities. Together, we can make Pagosa a safe place, and the only hunting going on is the legal kind.

For information and/or help, call ACVAP at 264-9075 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential.