Some students are saying that a TCU Theatre presentation portraying acts of sexual assault between two people on a date is too shocking, but the play’s director said viewers are supposed to leave shocked.”That’s exactly what we want,” said Sarah Elizondo, director of Assault Prevention Theatre.
Elizondo, a sophomore theater major, said the play is deliberately shocking to prepare students for what sexual assault really entails.
“Without Consent,” the only play the group performs, starts off with a man and a woman who go out on a date accompanied by friends, Elizondo said. Under the influence of alcohol, they both go to the woman’s dorm room and he takes advantage of her, she said.
After the show, the actors stay in character to answer questions and share their perspectives on the incident, she said.
Elizondo said the main goal of the play is to educate students about the psyche of the victim and the rapist and their individual reactions to sexual assault. She added that it helps viewers see how a rapist misconstrues a victim’s outfit or drunken state for a desire to have sex.
Some students may be uncomfortable talking about sexual assault, Elizondo said, but “Without Consent” is beneficial to see because it provides more than lectures about the issue.
Lauren Gervais, a sophomore psychology major, who saw the play last year, said the scenario impacted her because she was not accustomed to hearing some of the things the actors said.
“There was a lot of cussing and a mention of vagina,” she said. “I am not used to people taking about sex so bluntly. It took me a while to recover from it.”
Kathy Coleman, a sophomore early childhood education major, saw the play and said she could not identify with sexual assault and thought it was dramatic and unrealistic.
“It was kind of far off for me to relate to,” she said. “I feel they didn’t do a good job of making it seem like it happens on campus.”
But Elizondo said the group makes an effort to relate sexual assault to TCU.
“We try to show that it happens in dorms on campus, as part of the scene,” Elizondo said.
Since a lot of students are not prepared for a presentation of sexual assault, they see it as intense, Elizondo said, but a lot of people also appreciate it because they find it is real, she added.
Brittany Hafner, a senior middle-school education major, said despite the discomfort the play might cause, it is important for students to see.
“I think it opens people’s eyes whether they want to see it or not,” she said.
Kelly Hanson, a freshman history and English major, said it is useful for freshmen because it sheds more light on what goes on in a sexual assault situation.
Pam Christian, TCU Police crime prevention officer, said police officers also attend the play to answer any questions.
“There is no study on the rate of sexual assault because it is hard to get a woman to report the crime,” Christian said.
A study conducted on a similar program at Rutgers University found the program to be effective because it made students more careful and likely to act when they suspect any form of sexual abuse in their relationships. The study was conducted by Sarah McMahon and Karen Herman of the social work department at Rutgers.
The theater department, in conjunction with TCU Police, provides Assault Prevention Theater each year to about 3,000 viewers upon the request of different organizations, including sororities, human sexuality classes, Parents Council and the Tarrant County Sexual Abuse Advisory Council, Christian said.