UW Sexual Assault Resources: STOP Violence and SAFE Project

This week, Her Campus Wyoming is recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month in an effort to educate collegiettes about sexual assault and what they can do to prevent it on their campus. We talked to Megan Selheim with STOP Violence and Alicia Selfridge with SAFE Project to learn more about sexual assault.

 

What is STOP Violence?

STOP Violence is a program on campus that provides prevention education and confidential advocacy services. We are also involved in policy development. Any time a university policy is made about sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking, we are involved in the creation or editing process to make sure that survivors have a voice.

 

What is SAFE Project?

SAFE Project is a non-profit organization that serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in Albany County.  We provide free, confidential, non-discriminatory services to these survivors.

 

What does STOP Violence do for students on campus?

We offer confidential advocacy services including crisis counseling and crisis education. We are a safe, confidential space for people to vent about situations in their lives and get support and information. We also offer education about sexual assault, but what does that mean? Think about it this way: You’ve had tons of fire drills in your life, yet you’ve likely never had to use that information. But if you needed it, you’d be glad you had it. What happens if you are sexually assaulted? The majority of teens have not been told what their options are. That’s what STOP Violence and SAFE Project are for. We’re here to offer support and guidance for survivors of sexual assault that have no idea what to do. We teach people what to do when sexual assault occurs, walk them through legal processes and possible outcomes, help them make informed decisions, and provide actual support in legal/official processes. If asked, we will go to the hospital, the police station, etc. with you so you’re not alone.

 

What does SAFE Project do for students on campus?

SAFE Project receives funding to provide an advocate to work with survivors at the University of Wyoming. The Campus Advocate is housed on campus during the fall and spring semesters.  The Campus Advocate provides the exact same services that the staff at the main office provides to the community.  The Campus Advocate can help, not only with the basic services SAFE Project offers, but is knowledgeable of UW reporting processes and how to navigate all the channels that can be involved.  The most important piece is that the Campus Advocate, upon request of the client, can be involved as a support through any university processes.

 

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How do they contact you?

Students can email Megan with STOP Violence at [email protected] or [email protected] and Alicia with SAFE Project at [email protected]. If emailing, we ask that you keep the confidential content to a minimum and call or stop in our office to discuss personal information. Megan’s office number is 307-766-3296 and Alicia’s is 307-742-7273. Our offices are located in Knight Hall 118, with walk-in hours from 10 am to 4 pm. There is also our SAFE Project 24-hour Hotline at 307-745-3556.

 

What do you wish people knew about sexual assault?

  1. Everyone were on the same page about what sexual assault is and what it looks like. Most sexual assaults happen between people who know each other.

  2. People understood that consent isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to kill the mood. Rape kills the mood. Consent is appreciated on both sides, in all situations, even if you think it’s an unspoken agreement. It makes no sense that consent is required for most situations, like hanging out or sharing food, but as soon as it’s applied to sexual relationships it becomes confusing. It’s not that hard! Sex doesn’t change the rules of normal social behavior; you have to ask permission before involving someone else. We hear that most people feel uncomfortable asking. People still have lots of questions about consent, but it’s all basic! There are many resources available where people can learn more about consent. We need to be on the same page before we make any progress with changing the culture on campus.

  3. The false reporting rate for sexual assault is the same percentage as false reports for any other crime.

  4. 3.     Sexual assault is the most underreported crime

  5. 4.     Alcohol can be used as a weapon.  The majority of the sexual assaults we see have alcohol involved in some capacity.

 

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What can people do to prevent sexual assault?

Especially for college students; get educated about consent. Make sure that every decision with your partner is consensual - counselors can help tell you what this looks like and how to navigate the conversation. Resources like Planned Parenthood and Scarleteen can help you learn more about consent. Here’s why you need to get educated: if you know what consent looks like, you can recognize when it’s not happening. One of our resources on campus is the Step UP Bystander Intervention workshop. Students can sign up for free by emailing [email protected]. This workshop discusses what to do if you see sexual or domestic assault occurring and prevent anything bad from happening.

 

How can people help their peers who have been sexually assaulted?

BELIEVE THEM! Usually people have talked to someone else before coming to us - that person needs to listen, acknowledge the awful thing that’s happened to them, and say “How can I help?” Initial disclosure is so important. If they get shut down, they may never take it further and get the help they need. Always assume the person is telling the truth. There is no responsibility in being the confidant, so just listen and support! Let them give you direction and tell you what they need. Helping people can be a heavy burden, so don’t hesitate to reach out to counselors because being a secondary survivor can be hard too.

 

What should someone do if they’ve been sexually assaulted?

  1. Go to the hospital and get a SANE kit done- even if you don’t want to report, it is important to ensure you are getting the medical attention you need.  The evidence collected can be locked up for up to 5 years. That way if you choose to report later, the evidence has already been collected.  Also, the cost of the exam and ER visit should be covered in some capacity so don’t let the medical costs deter you from seeking medical attention.

  2. Talk to someone. There are national hotlines, local mental health resources in town and on campus, friends and family, that can offer the emotional support you need. Talking to someone early on will decrease the likelihood of negative long term problems and help lead you towards a life where the assault does not define you.

  3. If the survivor would like to, they can report to LPD/UWPD. This can also be done anonymously.

  4. Contact SAFE Project or STOP Violence to connect with an advocate for additional support.

 

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Anything else you would like people to know about sexual assault or SAFE Project/STOP Violence?

Students have more power than they know. If you want to do something about it, talk to STOP Violence, Voices of Courage, Safe Project, or Wellness Ambassadors to connect with someone. Students have power to make change and need to take advantage of avenues that will change the culture surrounding sexual assault.

 

Sexual assault happens A LOT. It happens at all ages: adulthood, college, high school, sometimes even younger. It’s important to practice consent and be aware of survivors in the community. You need to know that everyone has a right to education and safe space. Making offhand comments and jokes about rape and sexual assault are insensitive and hurtful, so be conscious of what you’re saying.

 

Just because reports seem low doesn’t mean that this is not happening. Just because numbers appear as though they are rising (especially at universities with Title IX) doesn’t mean that this is a rise in sexual assaults.  This has always been a problem.

 

RESOURCES:

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

STOP Violence: 307-766-3296

SAFE Project: 307-742-7273

SAFE Project Hotline: 307-745-3556

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