Jewelia Cannizzaro, a native New Yorker and Cabrini University student, came face to face with one of the biggest obstacles of her life. One night, when out with her friends, Jewelia boarded the train as she had done many times before. This time something was off. An intoxicated 60-something year-old man staggered onto the train, disrupting everyone’s peaceful ride. He started to make everyone uncomfortable when he decided he had the right to touch women, including Jewelia, inappropriately with his private parts. Jewelia was one of three women assaulted, including a mother with her child.
Jewelia is one of the 288,820 Americans, age 12 or older, who are raped and/or sexually assaulted every year. Despite the prevalence of sexual assault, many people do not intervene or even report the incident. Jewelia was brave enough to join the mere 20 percent of people who ultimately report their assault.
Fortunately for Jewelia, her assaulter was caught and reprimanded. But for some people, the perpetrator is released and often goes on to hurt others. Jewelia hopes others learn to speak and stop sexual assault when it is happening.
Tommie Wilkins, Grant Project Coordinator for Violence Against Women at Cabrini University, encourages people to stand up against sexual violence. Wilkins said, “I think the more we talk about it, the more we bring it forward….people will start to realize that it is wrong behavior.”