DePaul to host programming for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Take Back the Night
The university community is invited to participate in Take Back the Night and other campus programs DePaul will host for Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April. (DePaul University/Ann Russo)
The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness will deliver several signature events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including a new Trauma-informed Response Training​ for faculty and staff. The training is scheduled for Friday, April 12, at 2 p.m. in the Lincoln Park Student Center room 313. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, trauma-informed response training is a newer paradigm for public health services that emerged in the mid-2000s. The training at DePaul will focus on students who have experienced sexual or relationship violence, but the method also can be used to support anyone who has experienced a “catastrophic stressor” and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The approach shifts the question from ‘what’s wrong with you,’ to providing solutions to ‘what has happened to you,’” says Hannah Retzkin, sexual and relationship violence prevention specialist in the office of Health Promotion and Wellness. “We then provide options allowing the survivor to make their own decisions about reporting and care.”

Retzkin says allowing survivors to make their own decisions about reporting and care allows them to reclaim some of the power they lost as a result of sexual or relationship violence. 

“Participants of the training will learn to empower these students so they can make the choices that are best for them,” Retzkin says. 
Attendees will be able to apply what they are learning about the method to case studies presented as part of the training. Faculty and staff also will learn more about the Title IX mandated reporter process. 

“Many faculty and staff aren’t sure what happens after they tell the Title IX coordinator when someone has disclosed an assault to them,” Retzkin says. Organizers of the training hope the program will remove that mystery.

Attendees also will learn about the effects of trauma and the typical healing process for survivors of sexual and relationship violence.
“There’s a lot of power around a survivor’s first disclosure, and that first disclosure is often to a trusted faculty or staff member,” Retzkin says. “That faculty or staff member’s response shapes the survivor’s experience, and can affect the likelihood that they will disclose in the future and how much they benefit from the Title IX reporting process.”

A trauma-informed response can also directly affect student retention and success.

“Students who have experienced sexual and relationship violence on campus and then reported it have often complained about the administrative response to their disclosure,” Retzkin says. She suggests this causes students to lose interest in the institution, adding to the academic struggles they may already face in the wake of the assault.

HPW will provide lunch at the training. Faculty and staff who would like to attend the training can contact Hannah Retzkin.

Other events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month include:

Carry the Weight
Wednesday, April 10
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Arts & Letters Hall patio

A demonstration regarding the weight of trauma that follows sexual violence. Grace Gubbrud, president of DePaul’s Advocates for Sexual Assault Prevention, will stand and hold a weight the whole day. All members of the university community are welcome to come bear witness, take their turn holding the weight and start a broader conversation surrounding sexual violence. Resources will be available if the weight is too heavy.

Thursday, April 18
4:30 p.m. 
Schmitt Academic Center pit

Clothesline
Monday, April 8
Monday, April 15
2 – 5 p.m.
Lincoln Park Student Center, atrium

The Clothesline Project amplifies the voices of those impacted by sexual violence by rendering their stories on t-shirts and displaying them in the atrium and on the quad.
 
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