The numbers are alarming as they pertain to sexual assault and domestic violence, said Rachele Eskridge, prevention education coordinator for the YWCA.
“. . . In Oklahoma, 50 percent of women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime,” she said. “Typically across the nation, one out of every six boys will experience sexual assault by the time they are the age of 18.”
Eskridge spoke to about 150 students and instructors on campus earlier this semester. Her goal was to educate her audience on how to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, unhealthy relationships, stalking, and lack of consent in today’s society.
Using her hands to talk while she paced the stage, Eskridge had a sense of purpose in her voice and determination in her eyes.
“I mean, come on, guys. Turn on the news,” she said.
Eskridge said she chose to pursue the mission of educating young men and women about healthy relationships while in high school.
She said a fire was sparked in her after she collected a choir robe from a girl who was no longer in high school because she was pregnant with her second child. Eskridge is now traveling to different schools in Oklahoma County to educate the masses of young individuals about the behavior that leads to abuse.
To accomplish her goal, Eskridge explained that a lack of trust, consent, role models, boundaries, and examples can strongly influence the way someone perceives what a healthy relationship is composed of and looks like.
She explained that boundaries are healthy for relationships, and that communication plays a vital role. Each individual has the right to set his or her own boundaries and have them respected, Eskridge said.
Due to living in such a technology-driven era, she addressed trust issues that stem from social media.
“Just because you are now in a relationship, you do not have to give your passwords to your partner,” she said. “And you have absolutely no right to your partner’s passwords.”
Regarding sex, she said that every single time there is a physical encounter with another person, there should be a conversation that involves both individuals giving consent, what she called “an enthusiastic yes.”
If consent is not given, the other partner should not continue to pursue, bully, or force the other to comply. Eskridge explained that if convincing is involved, the consent is not genuine.
“May I kiss you?” she gave as one example. “But that’s so awkward,” she continued, mimicking the language of high school students.
“It’s so awkward to go to jail,” she said, emphasizing the potential consequences of forced compliance.
Continuing on about prevention of sexual assault, she explained that unhealthy boundaries can range from relying on others for happiness to displaying jealousy or lack of commitment to the partner. Sometimes it is hard to catch the small signs that lead to unhealthy relationships, she said.
Ray Hackney, a video major at OCCC, attended the lecture and spoke of how important Eskridge’s message was.
Hackney said “…This was a really important experience for a lot of students here because perhaps they don’t have the same resources or ways of even knowing about [examples] in their own lives.
“With the drastic numbers, it is really important that they get that kind of information; it definitely makes you reflect on your own personal relationships.”