PROVO, Utah – The sensitive topic of sexual assault took center stage at a BYU devotional.
Ben Ogles, dean of the college of home and social sciences, delivered a straight forward message about sexual assault to BYU students at the Marriott Center Tuesday.
The speech focused on agency, accountability and the atonement of Jesus Christ. Ogles warned students about spiritual consequences.
“Unfortunately, people around us, even those closest to us like our family, dating partners, and friends, sometimes use their agency to act in ways that injure us.”
Ogles is part of the school’s advisory board tasked with changing how the school responds to sexual assault reports. The school has set up a website for students to report assaults, and a victim advocate is available for students. But a recent student survey showed there’s still a climate of fear.
“About 33 percent didn’t tell anybody. And so that’s the saddest part of it is there are people suffering in silence,” said Ogles.
Too often, victims blame themselves.
“You are not responsible for that to which you did not consent! That is the essence of agency," Ogles said.
Attendees said the discussion was eye opening.
“It was interesting to me just some of the facts they told us about it, how many people had been affected by it. It was a little disappointing honestly,” said Brayden Smith, a BYU student.
Mary Harden listened to the speech with her son who attends BYU.
“People are becoming more open and I think that’s good for women to be aware. Just a good reminder to be respectful of women.”