Contra Costa County prosecutor speaks to DVC students about sexual assault


Camille Schwartz

Paul Graves addressing the crowd on Wednesday 18th

Camille Schwartz, Senior staff member

Contra Costa County Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves aimed to educate Diablo Valley College students about sexual assault using sobering statistics during an April 18 presentation.

One statistic: one in five female college students have been a victim of rape or attempted rape.

“You are in the danger zone,” said Graves.

College students are indeed exposed to situations that can potentially put them in danger such as during alcohol and drug consumption.

“Fifty percent of acquaintance rapes involved alcohol consumption,”said Graves.

Graves gave some tools on how to avoid being in such situations like pairing with a friend for the night or making sure that you, as well as your friends, have a ride home.

Testimonies of rape victims were shown to students in order to explain that there is no proper behavior when someone is sexually assaulted, everybody reacts differently.

“Most of the time, victims don’t react during a sexual assault, they don’t shout or fight back. This is called frozen fright, which is a mental paralysis,” said Graves.

According to Graves, 85 percent of rape victims don’t file reports due to the shame they feel afterwards because they didn’t act “properly” during or after the assault.

Thus, Graves particularly insisted on not victim shaming saying, “What causes a rape is 100 percent the rapist, never the victim.”

Moreover, contrary to what one may think, 80 to 90 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.

The common belief that rapists are only strange and creepy people in dark alleys is totally false and students need to be aware of this.

“Rapists are most of the time people you should count on, like friends, fellow classmates or even boyfriends,” said Graves.

“It really surprised me that the rapists are mostly people you know, not strangers. We should be able to trust the people we know,” said DVC student Francis Cardin.

“Legislation doesn’t solve everything, education does,” said Graves. “We need to treat people with respect.”

Graves’ presentation is one of several throughout the month of April designed to bring awareness to sexual assault.

The next event will be Monday, April 23 from 12:30 – 2 p.m. at the Student Union Multicultural Center.