SHU educates on sexual assault awareness
SAVE: Sexual Assault & Violence Education. As April is sexual assault awareness month, this month is particularly important for the Seton Hall SAVE Team. On campus, sexual assault awareness means educating students and preventing assault.
The SAVE team is a group of students and staff members who are dedicated to educating others about sexual violence and its effect on individuals and the community, said Dr. Sandra Ackerman-Sinclair, a Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff psychologist and the SAVE team Administrator.
“SAVE team members plan large scale programs that help educate and build awareness around sexual assault and violence as it impacts college students,” said Dr. Ackerman. “SAVE students host awareness events on campus, such as the Clothesline Project, coming up on April 21. This is an opportunity for survivors of assaults, friends and loved ones of survivors, or any interested party, can join in to communicate a message about ending the cycle of abuse or honoring their experience.”
The SAVE team has a motto that “Education is the Key to Prevention.” Not only does the SAVE team host events and table at functions to educate, but the members are also well versed in protocols on campus and with the police for reporting or talking about being assaulted.
At SHU, sexual assault encompasses all forms of rape or sexual contact involving forced touching of intimate body parts, even through clothing, for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or for the attacker’s gratification, according to SAVE.
These students can help guide a victim or survivor through the process of understanding and assessing their options to make their own decision.
“Our sense is often that sexual assaults don’t occur that often because it’s too often something that one keeps private and silent about,” said Dr. Ackerman. “I hope to help others learn about their options for sharing their story and reporting incidents. I never want a survivor of assault to feel alone in their recovery.”
In order for this issue to be resolved in society, there needs to be an open dialogue. SAVE provides SHU students with a place to have that open dialogue, learn about statistics, break down myths and be aware of what’s occurring in our own community.
Another one of SAVE’s annual events is the Take Back the Night event that will occur next spring. This night is a powerful program that will highlight survivor stories and encourage women to be strong and support one another, especially during the night- a time when many women are assaulted.
The team also hosted events this semester, such as bringing speakers into speak about healthy relationships, the cycle of abuse and the socialization of males in our society and how this upbringing contributes to the high rates of males as perpetrators.
According to Dr. Ackerman, SAVE also took part of the “It’s On Us” campaign where team members tabled with computers that provided students with the opportunity to take a national pledge that said: “To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault; to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur; to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given; and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”
SAVE also encourages students to be active bystanders, who say something or do something to prevent a potential assault from happening.
“It happens. It happens with people we know. It happens under the influence and sober,” said Dr. Ackerman.
Rebecca White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.