Some students had the opportunity to learn how to support survivors of sexual assault through the Loyola Wellness Center’s Survivor Ally Training session, which is part of the week-long initiative, “It’s On Us Week of Action.”
The “It’s On Us” campaign is a national movement launched by President Barack Obama in 2014, and it asks people to pledge to take action against sexual assault on college campuses.
Eleven students attended the training on Nov. 15, which was led by the Wellness Center’s senior health educator Mira Krivoshey, and Samantha Hammett, a graduate student.
The event started with a presentation of facts about gender-based violence, which is defined as a harmful act committed based on gender differences. This categorization includes sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Krivoshey acknowledged that while people of all genders face violence, women are affected at a disproportionately higher rate.
At the training, statistics were presented in a slideshow explaining that survivors don’t always report gender-based violence, but they often disclose the information to a friend. An ally’s role is to avoid negative reactions to reports of gender-based violence, such as victim blaming, and instead provide emotional support to survivors, according to Krivoshey.
Krivoshey used the acronym BEA (Believe, Empower and Affirm) to present skills on how to provide appropriate emotional support for survivors. An ally should listen and validate the survivor’s emotions and provide non-judgemental resources, she said.
Participants were informed about the options available for survivors of gender-based violence. The presentation outlined the process of reporting crimes to Campus Safety, explained the university’s grievance process and provided a list of confidential resources on campus.
Krivoshey said that she hopes students left the training feeling empowered.
“The one takeaway is that they are not alone in supporting survivors,” Krivoshey said. “They’re not alone, and there’s a lot of other resources,too, and hopefully this training has provided them with some knowledge of those resources and some very tangible things to say to their friends to aid in their healing.”
David Carli, a sophomore nursing major, attended the program, and he said he felt it was important for students.
“It is imperative to be able to provide [survivors with] such immediate access to a caring person and a trained person,” said the 19-year-old.
Senior Emma Hall, 21, also took part in the training, and she said she thought it was a step in the right direction for how Loyola addresses sexual assault on campus.
“No university is perfect, but I have optimism in what Loyola offers, and I think that’s really important in terms of moving forward,” said the anthropology major. “I think that we need to recognize what our university does well in order to try and fill in the gaps and in order to start making productive and coordinated change in the whole process.”
The event was the second of two training sessions this semester, and the Wellness Center plans to host more during the Spring semester. Krivoshey said that going forward, the Wellness Center is open to feedback from students about future programming.
Loyola’s Sexual Assault Advocacy Line operates 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 24 hours on weekends. Its phone number is (773) 494-3810.