Health & Wellness Services Encourages Dialogue during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
Department: Health and Wellness Services
The month of April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. At WSU, the Health and Wellness Services’ Violence Prevention Program is dedicated to raising sexual assault awareness and prevention on campus and throughout the Cougar community.
“We are going to use this as a time to highlight the resources we have on campus,” Nikki Finnestead, Violence and Prevention Coordinator for Health and Wellness Services, said. “We are going to use this month to remind our campus community of how important it is if a friend comes to you and discloses that they have been hurt by violence, the important role you can play in supporting that person and letting that person know there are resources available. Most importantly, it’s not just a month anymore on campus; we spend every day raising awareness about prevention and April just happens to be a really great month to spotlight everything we are doing through the year.”
Sexual assault continues to be a serious issue on college campuses nationwide. According to the 2012 WSU National College Health Assessment data, about 10 percent of WSU students are in an emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive relationship and about 8 percent experience sexual violence in the forms of unwanted sexual touching, attempted sexual assault, and/or rape.
“The reality is, nobody wants to think that someone they care about will be hurt by violence,” Finnestead said. “It can happen and it does happen. If someone comes to you, it is really important that you are prepared to respond. Help them know where to go and be a resource they can talk to. You don’t need to have all the answers, just know some of the resources available.”
On April 2, WSU students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to participate in the Green Dot Bystander Training. This interactive workshop addresses the prevention of power-based personal violence and is hosted by Health and Wellness Services.
“We are going to talk about how you can learn to recognize what can be a dangerous situation and how you can intervene safely,” Finnestead said. “This will be our last training of the school year, and will send students off for the summer really thinking about how they can be proactive in their communities.”
The Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU) have also taken an active role in raising sexual assault awareness and prevention this year. The It’s On Cougs campaign encouraged students and organizations to take a pledge to prevent sexual violence on the WSU campus, and the upcoming Talk To Us event will include student led dialogue to prevent sexual violence.
“We will be releasing a bystander training video in April to promote awareness and to start a conversation,” Sowmya Murthy, ASWSU Assistant Director of Diversity Efforts said. “On April 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. we will host our annual Talk to US event. This event is so students can talk to us about different issues around sexual assault.”
For WSU students, there are many confidential and non-confidential resources available on campus and in the Pullman community. Visit the Violence Prevention Programs website at https://hws.wsu.edu/violence-prevention/ or like the WSU Coug Health Facebook page for more information.