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By Todd Hardy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 5, 1997

Speaker tells story of sexual assault

Men need to take the lead in condemning rape and sexual assault, a nationally recognized public speaker told students and administrators last night in the Arizona Ballroom.

"I would like to tell all of the men out there that if you don't like rape there is a lot you can do to stop it," Katie Koestner said to an audience of about 50 men and 100 women.

In 1991, Koestner was raped by a man she was dating during her freshman year at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Later that year she appeared on the cover of Time magazine as part of a date rape feature.

In 1993, she was featured in an HBO docudrama titled "No Visible Bruises: the Katie Koestner Story."

As a trained peer educator and sexual assault counselor, Koestner has told her story at 359 high schools and universities in 39 states in an attempt to raise awareness about date rape.

Koestner said male audiences often take the subject of date rape too lightly.

"I don't think date rape will ever stop being a joke to some people," Koestner said.

She said communication and respect between men and women prevents date rape. Most date rapes occur because the line of consent can be blurred between friends or acquaintances, she said.

"Verbal consent is the safest form of consent I know, but some people don't understand 'no.' If they don't understand 'no,' they don't respect you."

About 84 percent of rapes in the United States are acquaintance related, Koestner said.

In Koestner's case, the assailant was Peter, someone she had been dating for 10 days.

Koestner said after a dinner date she invited Peter to dance in her dorm room. After dancing for about three songs, they began kissing. Peter wanted to go further, she said.

Although she said "no" more than a dozen times, Koestner said Peter forced himself on her and told her to relax.

"Could you relate to the feeling of being trapped, pinned down and powerless?" Koestner asked the men in the audience.

"I assumed that he would understand that I really did like him but I just didn't want to have sex with him," she said. "I have learned a lot since that night."

Koestner challenged all of the men in the audience to take action to prevent date rape and sexual assault.

"If I thought all men were rapists I would be wasting my time," she said.

Koestner said that men generally receive more respect when they speak out against rape.

"Hearing these things from a man can be much more powerful than hearing them from a woman," Koestner said.

Rudy Molina, Chicano studies sophomore, agreed that men need to become more involved in rape prevention and counseling.

"Unfortunately, I think we live in a male-dominated society and the message would be stronger coming from a man," Molina said.

Dan Reilly, a health educator for Campus Health Services, encouraged men to accept Koestner's challenge by taking a two-unit class for counseling rape and sexual assault victims. The class, organized by Campus Acquaintance Rape Educators, is geared speci fically toward men, Reilly said.

Koestner, who graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William and Mary in 1994, said she plans to pursue a law degree because she would like to change public policy regarding sexual assault.

Her speech, titled "Yes/No," was sponsored by the University of Arizona Commission on the Status of Women, Associated Students, Residence Life, and the office of the academic vice president for information and human resources.