The Office of Victim Advocacy at Central Connecticut wants to remind people that in an environment where sexual assault and violence occurs, they are not alone and there are options.
“We believe that everyone has the right to an environment free of violence and fear,” the office’s pamphlet stated. “Our goal is to strengthen and improve the delivery of services, encourage the reporting of offenses and to hold responsible persons accountable while protecting the rights of all involved parties.”
The Office of Victim Advocacy recently hosted the spring semester’s first event on sexual assault. With the celebration of Valentine’s Day — a day focused on intimate relationships — and Sexual Assault Awareness Month approaching in April, the office believes it was the best time to remind people of what a healthy relationship looks like and the options available for those experiencing any interpersonal violence.
“There’s a lot of things that people haven’t been informed about,” Nick Stafko, an intern at the Office of Victim Advocacy, said. “We are trying to prevent sexual violence by informing people of how a healthy relationship should be, explaining the red flags and making sure people have affirmative consent.”
The program was also a way to spread the word about the role of the office and the resources and services they offer. Volunteer Jhanelle Bailey explained that not a lot of students are aware of the office’s role and its location, as it is important for people to know they are not alone in these situations.
“The primary goal of victim advocacy is not to tell people what to do, it’s about empowering the victim, providing all the options and giving them the resources to make the decision that they feel is best,” Stafko said.
As Bailey further explained, the event was a reminder that if someone is experiencing anything outside of the “healthy relationship spectrum,” they should seek support.
“The Office is a way to give people different support systems that they could turn to in dealing with whatever trauma they or their loved ones may have faced,” Bailey stated.
During the event, pamphlets were passed out and workers responded to any doubts and concerns about the issue. They also provided people with the correct information and differences between sexual assault, stalking, consent, intimate dating and domestic violence. They also presented people with the rights and options victims and survivors have, as well as the ways of stopping violence.
In an interactive activity to gain people’s attention and still inform them, participants were asked to spin a wheel with numbers that were paired with different questions. Some of them read: “As a victim of sexual assault, is it your fault? Is it not your fault? Is it an accident?”,“Is obsession true love?”,“If someone is impaired, can they give consent?” and “If you decide halfway through that you want to stop something, can you?”
Whoever got the question right would receive a Valentine’s Day card with words like “honesty” and “fun,” and other signs of healthy relationships.
This was the first of several events the office will conduct related to sexual assault and victim advocacy. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the office is putting together the StandUp CCSU and the Denim Day Event which will provide additional information about these topics.
Meanwhile, Joanna K. Flanagan is the professional advocate dedicated to assisting survivors and victims of interpersonal violence. She can be located in the Office of Victim Advocacy in Willard DiLoreto in room D305.
“Remember, no matter what, this was not your fault,” one of the informational pamphlet stated. “We will support you in determining what is best for you.”