Sexual assault is a heavy topic for a Saturday. Yet this weekend, 18 people gathered to spend the better part of a day participating in the Sexual Assault Response Advocacy training.

The training is collaborative in nature with faculty from the Women’s Resource Center, the Department of Criminal Justice, LUPD, Student Conduct, and the University Counseling Center (UCC) providing information in their areas of expertise. Representatives from both NOPD and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program volunteered to provide information on their services. These speakers address the gendered nature of violence, review various options available (including medical, legal, and judicial options), and provide empathic communication skill building. Each trained advocate then serves as a knowledgeable, initial point of contact, connecting survivors to community resources for health and healing.

Among the participants this weekend included students, staff and faculty representing a variety of departments, ages, cultural backgrounds, genders, and grades. Herein lies the note of hopefulness: many people from many backgrounds care and are seeking ways to address the problem of sexual violence. Though sexual violence permeates our culture, there are individuals choosing to teach, learn, listen, brainstorm, volunteer, and dialogue.

If you are a survivor, a list of trained advocates and a list of local resources can be found on the UCC’s webpage.

If you are a community member looking to engage this topic further, consider the following:

  1. Challenge your peers who make comments that blame victims.
  2. Reflect on the posters in residence halls highlighting the link between alcohol and sexual violence.
  3. Look for information about Sexual Non-Violence Week (in early April).
  4. Consider being trained as an advocate.
  5. Attend a lecture on a related topic.
  6. Talk to a counselor about how you can engage this topic. We’ll be providing information on the UCC services in residence halls tonight!

By: Brooks Zitzmann, LMSW

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