Community groups raise awareness about sexual assault and support for survivors

Groups on campus provide resources, support and a place to be involved for supporters, victims and students who want to be involved.

This story is one part of a series of articles on sexual assault awareness at the University of Oregon. Read Emerald editor Sami Edge’s letter to find out why we’ve dedicated today’s edition of Emerald Monday to the topic.

Several groups on and off campus share information to raise awareness about sexual assault and promote consensual relationships, while others provide themselves as a resource for sexual assault survivors.

OASA (Organization Against Sexual Assault)

OASA originally began as a task force in 2012 committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and prevention, while also advocating for alternatives to mandatory reporting in the hopes that a survivor’s assault would be investigated only with the survivor’s consent.

When the task force ended, OASA continued as a student group that promotes the end of sexual assault. Members facilitate projects including a photo campaign that centers on healthy relationships as well as the Coalition for Consent, which is an open group that meets every few weeks to discuss consent in sexual relationships.

“We fight for a change and fight for survivors on campus,” Kelsey Jones OASA’s public relations coordinator, said.

SWAT (Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team)

Volunteers for SWAT raise awareness about sexual assault by developing presentations every year and performing them for different groups on campus, including clubs, classes, and fraternity and sorority life.

“We’re not so much talking at them, but talking with them about these topics,” SWAT member Brian Stevenson said. “It is a really fun way to try to make one step towards some level of social change.”

Stevenson said in the past year, sexual assault awareness has been getting much more attention and more people are aware of SWAT and its mission.

When people join, they take classes about SWAT, consensual relationships, bystander interventions and more. After three terms, they can join volunteers in their presentations.

SASS (Sexual Assault Support Services)

SASS is a non-profit off campus organization that offers services to survivors of sexual assault and those that are close to them in Lane County. This is primarily through a 24/7 support line, 24/7 crisis response and a drop-in center during the week for people to speak with advocates for survivors.

“Everything that we do, we’re held to pretty high standards when it comes to the training that we receive and the way that we provide services,” BB Beltran, SASS executive director, said.

Although those that provide service do not offer advice, they provide survivors with options to help empower them with the ability to make informed decisions.

Women’s Center

The Women’s Center staff aims at providing a safe space for survivors of sexual assault. They also coordinate events that raise awareness about sexual assault, which are often survivor centered.

This includes Take Back the Night, an event where survivors share their experience and students rally against sexual assault.

Safe Ride

Safe Ride provides free rides to UO students at night so they don’t have to walk alone or in small groups, which reduces the likelihood that they will be in harmful situations.

“They don’t have to be drunk, they don’t have to be sober,” Tiffany Prizzi, Safe Ride volunteer coordinator, said. “We’re no questions asked.”

Being sensitive to survivors of sexual assault:

(Provided by the Office of the Dean of Student Life.)

-Maintain confidentiality of the survivor and their experience.

-Do not assume what their feelings are or tell them how they feel

-Understand that different survivors will have a variety of emotions.

-Don’t judge their actions or blame them for anything. (Questions about what someone was wearing or how much they’d had to drink can contribute to “victim blaming”.)

-Listen to them and believe them.

-Respect their decisions.

-Let them know the resources available to them, without insisting that they take action.

Prevention tactics

If you’re taking a stroll through campus, you’ll notice the blue-light safety call buttons strategically scattered around. Are they really being used?

Phone app Circle of 6 allows a student to pick six friends who, when they feel unsafe, they can send a message to with just two clicks through pre-written messages. LiveSafe enables students to track crimes on campus and allows anonymous reporting. The app bSafe has a GPS feature that allows friends or guardians to track the user as they travel.

Although technology can be beneficial in preventing sexual assault, it’s not always the most reliable. The following risk reduction suggestions were given by the UOPD:

-Keep your beverages in your control.

-Look out for the well-being of friends who may be incapacitated.

-Schedule a pickup from ASUO’s Safe Ride (541-346-RIDE [7433] ext. 2) or the Designated Driver Shuttle (541-346-7433 ext. 1)

-Encourage friends to travel in pairs or with trusted companions, especially at night or in remote areas. Be aware of surroundings.

Resources 

On-campus

The Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services Program (541) 346-SAFE – 24-hour hotline; accommodation and legal service; All university faculty, except for some under Title IX, are required reporters to the university about any incidents involving sexual harassment.

University Health Center (541) 346-2770 – Provides students physical and emotional support following a sexual assault; Has the ability to collect evidence upon the student’s request, but members are not required to report an assault to law enforcement

University Counseling and Testing Center (541) 346-3227 – Provides confidential psychological services to students

UOPD (541) 346-2919 – File a police report; Help survivors plan out immediate safety planning and understand the process of reporting

Off-campus (all are non-profit)

Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) (541) 343-SASS (7727) – 24-hour hotline Offers information, referrals and peer counseling to survivors

Womenspace (541) 485-6513 – Provides services to survivors in Lane County, including emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis line, legal advocacy, etc.

Lane County Victim Services (541) 682-4523 – Utilizes volunteers assigned to the court advocacy unit, the protective order unit and the family violence unit


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