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University News

Workshop advises friends of sexual assault survivors

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In a cozy room in the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center Tuesday evening, students with all levels of background knowledge gathered to participate in a workshop on sexual assault as part of Sex Week. The workshop, titled “I’ll Only Tell a Friend: Learning the Best Ways to Help Someone Who’s Been Hurt by Sexual Assault,” was led by Trish Bakaitis-Glover, the University’s sexual assault response and prevention program coordinator, who emphasized the importance of understanding how to react and offer support to a friend “in an empowering way.”

According to Bakaitis-Glover, one in six women and one in 23 men experience sexual assault or an attempt at sexual assault, and two-thirds of these people choose to tell a friend.

Bakaitis-Glover said that, due to the complexity of the subject, many “generalities” would be used to cover the topic “in a small period of time.” She discussed common myths about sexual assault before speaking about safety, information, empowerment, empathy, support and barriers to communication and answering questions on those topics.

“Lots of good people don’t know how to respond” when a friend opens up about sexual assault, Bakaitis-Glover said. It is key to “let them define what they need, then help them get that,” she said. “Accepting a friend in that moment can be simple and powerful.”

Attendees were given an outline describing different ways to help a friend and a pamphlet describing the resources available on- and off-campus.

“The more positive experiences people have (when they tell a friend), the more likely they are to get further help,” Bakaitis-Glover said in closing. “That’s why we are here.”

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