Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) discusses sexual assault and prevention every year all year round, and in April they participate in sexual assault awareness month.
SVP hosted their Sexual Assault Awareness Panel Revisited Wednesday April 17 from 6-8 in the Governors room of the student center.
“This was revisited so we already had a sexual response panel this school year but we had a lot of questions and continuing conversation pieces so what we decided to do was redo it during April during out sexual assault awareness month so that was with the date and then going into… deciding who was going to be our panelist, we really wanted to offer a holistic approach to everything so a campus victim advocate’s point of view, law enforcement’s point of view, counselor’s point of view, nurse’s point of view and adding in all of those things we can answer a lot more questions,” said Kali Clingerman, junior in nursing.
SVP provided snacks and beverages for those who attended as well as handouts and information for survivors as well as allies.
“Sexual assault is something that’s very interesting to me because I know that it does happen and for me as someone who wants to be an ally, I wanted to try and find out more information to see what I could do to help and also what resources are available, and just other things I might not know about,” said James Stewart, senior in psychology.
The event started with a “Can You Help Me?” activity, where those in attendance were all given a different role such as teacher, counselor, law enforcement, survivor, perpetrator and stood in a circle around the survivor.
“The ‘Can You Help Me Activity?’ …That’s how we can convey empathy and like real scenarios that survivors go through when they try to disclose a sexual assault, so we did the activity after we had seen it performed,” Clingerman said. “… We decided to do it because it really brings a different perspective of how many times a survivor has to tell their story, the typical responses that they get, and then how we can change that in our culture and how we can make those more supportive and help survivors better in our daily lives.”
The survivor asked each person to help her and each person responded in pre-scripted, negative, sometimes victim-blaming way.
“I thought it went really well,” said Samantha Shakes, sophomore in nursing. “The beginning activity where we did kind of the myths or how people respond to victims and not the best way for them, where I was the survivor in that scenario so that was really difficult to say those words over and over again but it really put you in the mindset of the victim in that case because they do have to say that over and over again if they’re talking to all different authorities and things like that, it really showed the proper way to respond to someone if they came up to you saying they experienced that.”
The activity was to show that with the negative responses the survivors only link to the outside world was through their perpetrator, then when each person responded in a positive way the link to the perpetrator was cut and new links formed with the other individuals.
I thought it was really good, very powerful too because I don’t think many of us are really in that position to help somebody that has had that happen to them and to see the responses that they might receive, like it’s hard not to be empathetic and feel for them because you want them to feel safe and feel that they can go to these people they trust and can help them so I thought it was very powerful, definitely an exercise of empathy,” Stewart said.
After the exercise, students sat down and logged into the website where they could ask anonymous questions and the variety of panelists could provide information based off of their individual lines of work.
“I thought it was really good like I was so surprised to… look at my phone and see it was already so late just because the conversations were really good and the information was really good, it’s something that I wish more people had come to because I think this is information that everyone needs,” Stewart said.
The Panelists included Jason Kegler, vice president of student life and deputy Title IX coordinator, Stu Hite, University Police director, Rebekah Lynch, detective sergeant with Pittsburg Police Department, Wendy Overstreet, SANE Nurse, Stephanie Spitz, campus victim advocate, and Mike Ehling, counselor at Crawford County Mental Health.
“I think it’s a very important cause I know it’s the sexual assault awareness month so there’s a lot of things going on but I think any time you can get the word out to potential victims that might be going through this how they can respond, how they can report, how they can get their power back from having it taken away from them with an assault like this I think it’s obviously something we all need to participate in and I’m more than happy to do that,” Hite said.