Utah Men against Sexual Violence at U

Although men are usually the perpetrators of rape, not all men are rapists.

A new community organization wants to empower men to take a stand against sexual assault. The goals of Utah Men Against Sexual Violence include increasing men?s awareness of sexual violence, educating men about rape and empowering men to speak against rape, Utah Chairman Mitch Maio?a University of Utah student?said.

Maio will be speaking on KALL 910 radio at 1:40 p.m. today.

The group will hold a press conference Thursday at 11 a.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The press conference is in recognition of the YWCA?s national ?Week Without Violence.?

?It?s really exciting to see so much support from the campus,? Maio said. ?We?ve had so much support from people on campus that we couldn?t fit all of their names on the press release.?

?We?re expecting about 100 people at the press conference,? said Chris Matich, Utah Men member.

?This is a proactive event,? Maio said. ?There haven?t been any high-profile rapes on campus, so it?s not like it?s a bunch of guys covering their butts. They are actually committed to stopping sexual violence.?

The community-based group was started about one year ago, but held its first official meeting with the Utah Men title about one month ago, Maio said.

?We have about 18 members right now, but we hope to see more after the press conference,? Maio said.

The majority of the members have come from the Rape Recovery Center, where they served as volunteers, he said.

Maio started the group because involving men in rape awareness and recovery takes the blame off of women.

?Ninety-eight percent of rapes and sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, however, only 2 percent of men rape,? Maio said. ?This basically means that the overwhelming majority of men don?t rape. Utah Men is an organization that was formed with one objective in mind: getting the 98 percent of men who don’t rape to speak out against the 2 percent who do.?

Involving men in the process also helps the victims of sexual assault, he said.

?By blaming women for being raped, you re-victimize the victim. Involving men helps take away the blame from women, and it makes men take responsibility,? Maio said. ?It?s a good message we?re sending out.?

Although the focus of the group is men educating men about sexual violence and rape, both men and women can join the group.

?We want input from as many different people as possible,? he said. ?Hearing from women is?without a doubt?a great perspective, and I think it?s necessary.?

Although very few campus based groups similar to Utah Men exist around the country, Maio hopes the organization will serve as a model for additional anti-sexual assault groups throughout the country.

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