Law student Maria Moore proposed the elective course in spring 2014 after noticing the topic of sexual violence didn’t receive adequate coverage in her classes.
“I was in my criminal law class, and I realized that there wasn’t anything on the syllabus about sexual violence,” she said.
When Moore asked her professor about the hole in the curriculum, he said the subject was too uncomfortable to cover in a required class.
“When it’s something that huge — rape is the most common violent crime — and we don’t talk about it, it makes it seem like it’s not important or it makes it seem like it’s not a topic for polite conversation,” Moore said. “It creates a culture of silence.”
Moore said the topic is important for her fellow law students to learn about so they can better serve their clients.
“A lot of survivors of sexual violence end up becoming very turned off to the legal process while dealing with a prosecutor who’s supposed to be on their side,” she said. “I felt a lot of misunderstanding occurs from the lack of the topic being addressed while prosecutors are in law school.”
Amily McCool, a graduate of the School of Law and the systems advocacy coordinator for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, agreed to help with the creation of the course. She’ll also be teaching it.
“This course is vital because of the high rate of sexual violence in our culture,” McCool said. “Even attorneys who don’t intend to work specifically with sexual violence survivors are going to find that many of their clients have been affected by the issue.”