Many people are unaware of the steps to take after a sexual assault has occurred. Sexual assault can be a sensitive matter to discuss, but it is a topic that students should be made aware of.
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) hosted their annual “Sexual Assault Response Panel.” The panel took place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. through a Zoom call. During this event, students submitted questions anonymously that they had concerning sexual assault which were then answered by professional panelists.
According to Rainn.org, 11.2 percent of all college students experience rape or sexual assault while attending college.
“Healing is, of course, different… (for) everyone.” said Sally Pullman, therapist at the Bryant Student Health Center. “We want to make sure that we’re working together, and that we’re providing you everything that we can.”
One of the topics that the panelists spoke about was the changes regarding the Title IX policy. The Title IX law is a law that prohibits universities for discrimination against gender. On Aug. 14, the law has changing terminology and criteria, so that everyone is treated fairly.
“The new changes are more due process oriented for both the respondent and the complainant,” said Jason Kegler, assistant vice president of Student Life and Deputy Title IX coordinator.
Filing a sexual assault claim can be a nerve-raking process, but there is a lot of surrounding support to help victims through this process.
“This isn’t just a police matter or an advocate matter,” said Stu Hite, chief of police at PSU. “We are all on here for a reason, because we all work together. We’re here for one common goal and that is to take care of you, if you are a survivor of sexual assault.”
In some cases, people are not comfortable with sharing their trauma with friends or family members, which is why professional advocates can be there to support. PSU Campus Victim Advocate Stephanie Spitz is available to help survivors with any support that they may need throughout their progress.
“It isn’t something that you want to do alone, it can be invasive.” Spitz said, “I get to be your emotional support and meet you at the same level that you are at.”
The Bryant Student Health Center is also another helpful resource for reporting sexual assault.
“We have found that many students don’t want to go to the hospital for many reasons, so this is the best way that we can help you guys out.” said Wendy Overstreet, sexual assault nurse at the Bryant Student Health Center.
At the health center, the sexual assault kit is at no charge to students. Students also are allowed two therapy sessions, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and a follow up appointment also free of charge.
“I would never, ever in a million years want… a survivor to even contemplate money,” Hite said, “At least at PSU we are going to try to find some way to make sure you don’t have to worry about that.”