Campus News

April 8, 2011

Raising awareness of sexual assault

"Let's talk about sex." The blatant, in-your-face slogan was on dozens of posters around campus promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Week, April 4-8.

Hosted by the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention, Student Health and Counseling Services, and the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society, the week brought "The Real Life Love Doctor" David Coleman, sexual assault peer advocacy training, and a discussion about safe and healthy sexual relationships, among other events, to the Emory community.

"We worked really hard to have more events that are fun and engaging to promote healthy and safe sex," says Amanda Klein, the student leader of Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention. "This year we've gotten a lot more responses from students. Last year we had 20 students show up, this year we saw 200."

This increase in participation shows that the Emory community is taking a unified stand against sexual assault.

Aline Jesus Rafi, coordinator of sexual assault prevention education and response in Student Health and Counseling Services, says that creating a community of care has always been the focus at Emory.

Paula Gomes, director of the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP), says that she has seen a significant rise in sexual and intimate partner violence during her nine years here.

She attributes the increase to many factors facing couples including confusion about sex, sexuality, roles and relationship dynamics. The increased pressures on individuals and families due to changes in the economy and workplace have led to unhealthy management of conflict for many couples, she notes.

In order to combat this issue, FSAP, Student Health and Counseling Services and the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention as well as other campus collaborators continue to help provide different programs every year. 

For faculty and staff, Gomes says the FSAP Behavioral Mental Health Team provides consultation, counseling and crisis intervention services by licensed clinicians at the main or satellite office locations.

The Emory Intimate Partner Violence Working Group is finalizing a website with resource information related to awareness, prevention and intervention.

"Our hope is to have this website serve as a vehicle for educating individuals on information and resources available to them within Emory and their residential communities," says Gomes, who helped spearhead the working group's formation in 2007.

"There's always more we can do. We're currently developing and revamping the orientation education program for new students," says Rafi. She adds that there is talk of a full credit class being offered to address violence prevention.

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