Surviving & Thriving After Sexual Assault

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Did you know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted by the time they are sixteen?  1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted during their time in college alone.  April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and with statistics like that, it is no wonder that Nazareth is hosting an event to educate its students on the importance of this issue.

This year, Nazareth is launching the “Surviving and Thriving” event sponsored by the Student Wellness Center and Student Activities to do just that.  The event is a part of Take Back the Night, a national annual event that is particularly well known in many big schools.  With Nazareth’s own version, Carey Backman, Director of Student Activities and Leadership, and Krysta Baccari, Health Educator at the Student Wellness Center, hope to make this year’s “Surviving and Thriving” a way to educate students on sexual assault.

“Surviving and Thriving” will take place on April 14th at 7PM in the Forum.  There will be a showing of the documentary Brave Miss World, a panel discussion and a candlelight vigil.  Backman and Baccari describe it as survivor focused, with input from survivors during the panel, and empowering for everyone, both men and women.

Brave Miss World will focus on victim advocacy, as Linor Abargil shares her story of sexual assault as well as her healing process.  The panel will follow next, with input from survivors, Naz staff and experts in the field.  It’s a great way to change the perception that sexual assault has been exclusively a women’s issue, even though men suffer, too.  The panel is a way for men to be seen in a role of advocacy that is a part of the solution, rather than as perpetrators, because sexual assault can happen to anyone.  Overall, the panel will reflect on rape culture, Nazareth perspectives from students and staff, and survivor’s stories in order to address sexual abuse in a well-rounded way.

I asked Carey and Krysta if they had any advice for victims of sexual assault.  Carey said “I would tell them that there is no shame in this experience” and Krysta added that “they are not alone, they can seek help so they don’t have to struggle in silence and they can heal.” There are lots of resources here at Naz for victims, as well, through the Student Wellness Center. Off-campus there is Restore, a 24 hour sexual assault services confidential hotline. Stand Up Guys is another great resource, a prevention focused group composed of men striving to raise awareness of violence against women.

One thing to be aware of is Title IX, the school’s policy on sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination. You may have heard of it before with sports equity, but it also pertains to how schools have to handle cases of sexual assault.  Nazareth’s website states that

“Nazareth College prohibits and will not tolerate sex discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence, and sex- and gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature, in every setting and in every program organized, sponsored, and hosted by the College”.  It’s good to know that Nazareth College is an ally in promoting these ideals.

Title IX also affects how much confidentiality students have if they tell certain staff members that they have been sexually assaulted.  Some faculty are mandated reporters, meaning that if a student discloses this type of information to them, they have to notify the Title IX coordinator so that the school can take action, usually an investigation.  Students can access Title IX from the school’s website to learn more about the confidentiality aspect of Title IX, in Section VI C under Confidential Resources and Support.  Students can also contact Kevin Worthen, Title IX Coordinator, with any questions about who they can tell about an incident and the level of confidentiality expected.

If we hope to end sexual assault and violence, educating people by sharing experiences and stories in events like “Surviving and Thriving” is a great way to do so.  Help Naz to “take back the night” by coming to the Forum this Tuesday at 7 so that we can all contribute to making that goal a reality.  Here are some of the great resources mentioned above:

Title IX

Restore: 585-546-2777

Stand Up Guys

Nazareth’s Student Wellness Center

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