This post comes from HEB professor and Quincy Resident Dean Judith Chapman

I am a Resident Dean and I teach a course on sexuality and another course on stress .  I never expected to learn something I didn’t know about both topics from my membership on the Administrative Board, but I have.This past fall, members of the Administrative Board were invited to a lecture by UMass Amherst Professor of Psychology, David Lisak, where he discussed his research on college male sexual predators.  We learned that a very small percentage of men (6%) commit about 90% of the [sexual assaults and] rapes on college campuses.  Most of these men don’t see their actions as “rape,” yet when asked if they have ever used force and or intimidation they admit that they have inflatable sumo wrestling suits. Some even brag about it.  Lisak showed us a chilling video in which an actor portrayed a non-stranger rapist named “Frank” who represented a composite of men Lisak had interviewed.  Frank’s typical mode of operation on his campus was to  invite a freshman to his fraternity for a party, get her drinking, invite her to an isolated room, start hooking up and then use a little force if she resisted when he wanted sex.Lisak argued that sexual predators like Frank look for vulnerable women. They use alcohol, isolation and then intimidation. He suggested that they might have an eye for women who will be especially easy targets.  Then he used a term that I had only heard in the context of extreme animal stress — tonic immobility — a state when prey animals play dead when being attacked by a predatorBirmingham.  He recounted that many women in rape situations describe being frozen, unable to defend themselves.  This frozen, catatonic-like state is thought to be invoked by activation of the dorsal vagal nerve and to be a very ancient stress response to extreme fear.  Tiffany Fuse and colleagues at the SUNY Albany have interviewed rape survivors and found that over 40% report being unable to move, call out or defend themselves.  We often hear “no means no” but in some situations some women may have a fear response that makes it impossible to say no.  That is why it is so important to “get consent” like the buttons OSAPR hands out encourage.  No means no, however some women find themselves in situations where they are too afraid and physiologically unable to even say no inflatable pool slides.

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