A Georgia State University professor on the front lines of combating sexual assault on campuses said that the now-discredited article in Rolling Stone about a sexual assault at the University of Virginia will not make all victims less likely to report sex crimes.

And the story won’t change the ongoing shift in the United States about sexual assault, awareness of it and treatment of victims.

“I think that we are in the midst of a cultural shift with respect to sexual assault, in which more of the public is aware of behavior that constitutes sexual assault, including rape, and reports are met with less resistance,” said Sarah L. Cook, professor and associate dean of the Honors College at Georgia State.

Cook, who is involved in the development of scientifically-based campus climate surveys to get a true picture of sexual assault on college and university campuses, cautioned that there is still a long way to go in combating sexual assault and assisting victims.

“I am not saying that those who experience an assault feel comfortable making a report – that will never happen – or that all law enforcement, or campus officials, will receive reports in an appropriate manner, but change is apparent,” she explained.

Cook has been involved in the issue of sexual assault for three decades, having been an emergency room companion for rape victims, a rape support group facilitator, prevention educator, consultant to state and local rape crisis/sexual assault centers, a child protection worker, advocate for the American Psychological Association on the passage of the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and more.

“I keep pinching myself because I can’t believe people are actually talking about this problem” after years of the problem being ignored, Cook said. “I may not agree with what everyone is saying, but we have tried for years to be heard.”

For more about Cook and her research, advocacy and the Georgia State Violence Against Women Prevention Research Team, visit https://vawpresearchteam.wordpress.com/.