According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 23.1% of women and 5.4% of men have experienced sexual assault or rape while earning their undergraduate degree. But what percentage of survivors are aware of resources their campus has in order to guide them through such a complex and challenging journey?
On Oct. 8, the Ulster County Crime Victims Assistance Program (CVAP) hosted a survivor support event outside of Sojourner Truth Library. At the event, different clubs and organizations who offer resources to survivors disseminated information about what they offer to students and how students can get involved.
The event was littered with program flyers, therapy dogs, “Take Back the Night” pins, engraved “thank you” stones and lively discussions about upcoming initiatives.
Shelby Genualdo, an intern at CVAP and the organizer of the Survivor Support Event, said that the mission of the event is to reach people in pain and “embrace that pain with support and let people know they do not have to deal with this alone.”
OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information, and Shelter) and the Haven are student-run crisis centers affiliated with the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC).
Students can visit OASIS in Awosting Hall room G13C or call the hotline anonymously at 845-257-4945 between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. to speak with trained students about their mental health, any situation they might be involved in and for referrals.
The Haven is extremely similar, except more geared towards issues related to sexual violence. The Haven can be reached at 845-257-4930.
The crisis centers “allow anyone, whether they’re going through a crisis at that moment or not, to feel like they can be heard and have an ear to listen to them, even at some odd hour of the night,” said a representative from OASIS and The Haven, who will remain anonymous in order to maintain the organizations’ complete confidentiality.
Another resource the CVAP offers is a free sexual assault support group for female-identifying and gender fluid survivors. The CVAP also offers free trauma-informed yoga sessions. The aspect of community and togetherness that these groups embody is also highly significant.
“We need to come together in places and spaces and prioritize relationships over individual achievements,” said Joel Oppenheimer, a senior counselor at PCC and licensed clinical social worker.
Oppenheimer said that one step we must take in making advancements in our discussion of gender violence is to “shift the paradigm of how we view masculinity” and “lift the veils of dominant culture to repair the harm.”
This harm, Oppenheimer claimed, impacts every person negatively so all people should be part of the discussion. Practicing Positive Masculinity workshops will take place Oct. 23 and Nov. 20 at College Terrace from 6-8 p.m.
Emma Morcone, SUNY New Paltz LGBTQ+ and Deputy Title IX coordinator, was also present at the event to speak on behalf of Title IX policy protections that students have, as well as programs that she runs centering around the LGBTQ+ community.
People in the LGBTQ+ community experience disproportionate levels of violence. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner or rape.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
The PCC is another resource that survivors can turn to in order to receive support. While OASIS and the Haven offer support from trained peers who some students may feel can relate to them better, the PCC provides support from licensed professionals.
Amidst all of the different ways people offer support to survivors, the clear overarching theme of the event was that you are not alone, reminding survivors that there are many support systems to join and people available who devote time specifically towards helping them.
Morcone also handed out information about students’ rights to make a report to local police and have their complaints taken seriously and respected. For more information, a handbook and resources about Title IX, you can go online at www.newpaltz.edu/titleix/.