Sexual violence events may offer important dialogue for survivors

Student, faculty speakers stress need for open communication

In recent days, faculty and students have gathered in a variety of settings to discuss sexual violence in the University community. According to recent research, this discussion could prove positive for survivors, who research shows may gain long-term benefits from talking to others about their experiences.

Psychological research has focused heavily on the importance of communication as well as

intervention in optimizing mental health outcomes for rape survivors.

“A number of intervention programs tailored for women focus on identifying and ameliorating

risk factors associated with increased likelihood of sexual assault,” wrote Dr. N. Dickon Reppucci, a University psychology professor. Reppucci is one of three authors of the study, “Social, Community, and Preventive Interventions.”

This study found that such programs yielded observable post-intervention changes for survivors. At six months post-intervention, female participants reported more positive lives, defined by less depression, fear and anxiety.

Third-year Batten student Sarah Jameel, a member of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Student Association who helped organize a rally against sexual violence Thursday, said communication may help to prevent and ameliorate the effects of sexual violence.

“Maybe organizations could utilize their big and little sibs systems not just to strengthen bonds

for the social and academic scene, but also for safety, health, and all the other stuff that goes into looking out for each other,” Jameel said. “Maybe sibs can point out what you do in these kinds of situations.”

Faculty members advocate similar initiatives to prevent and address sexual violence on Grounds.

“It seems to me that encouraging strong connections between older and younger college women may be a huge help because older women are a real resource for the first-year women,” English Prof. Katharine Maus said.

A 2010 study at the University of South Carolina found 52 percent of undergraduate students who were raped sought help. However, the study found that post-traumatic stress disorder was the primary predictor of help-seeking.

Part of help-seeking includes providing resources through which students can report acts of rape or sexual assault. The Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling and Psychological Services, the University Women’s Center and student groups such as One Less and One in Four currently circulate information about such resources.

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