The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Violence week to push for help

Sexual violence is a problem common to college campuses but few feel comfortable talking about the issue. Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Sept. 20 to 23, seeks to change that.

Events during the week begin Monday with a benefit concert by the MU Gospel Choir and singer Tammy Ann Winn for the Healing Center. A Soup with Substance about dating violence on campus is scheduled for Tuesday. Keynote speaker Mike Domitrz will give a presentation Wednesday on dating communication, relationships and respect. Female survivors of sexual violence will be honored at the annual Take Back the Night Rally at the Peck Pavilion, 929 N. Water Street.

"We want to educate students and create awareness that no one is immune to the issue here," said Amy Melichar, a health educator in the Center for Health Education and Promotion and Student Health Services.

Consequently, students and the Departments of Public Safety and Residence Life — along with the Counseling Center and many other on-campus groups — worked to add more programs to the week compared to last year, Melichar said.

Information tables and the Clothesline Project, a group that collects decorated T-shirts from sexual assault survivors, will be on the second floor of the Alumni Memorial Union. From Sunday to Wednesday, residents of O'Donnell Hall will hold their annual 72-hour teeter-totter marathon to raise money for The Healing Center, a Milwaukee organization which counsels survivors of sexual violence. Thursday is "National Get Carded Day." Marquette student athletes will hand out cards with abuse hotline numbers.

"We've looked for unique and engaging ways to show students" the need to be aware of sexual violence, Melichar said.

All these programs have the same message, according to Donna Schoenfeld, a representative for Helping Abuse and Violence End Now.

"Each one of us can stop this. We don't have to wait for our friend to be a survivor," Schoenfeld said.

Wendy Close, a psychologist in the Counseling Center, said the effects of sexual violence vary from person to person. She said survivors of sexual violence may experience shock or disbelief, anger, fear and anxiety. Sleep and eating problems can develop and the victim may have trouble with day-to-day functioning. The most intense emotions generally happen within three months of the incident, Close said.

Relatives and friends of the victim may also experience emotional issues. They may feel anger and want to help, although they may not know how, Close said.

The best thing to do is be there for the friend or relative and encourage them to come forward and seek help, Schoenfeld said.

"Listen. Don't pass judgment. Be a good friend," Schoenfeld said.

There are options on campus for victims of sexual violence.

"When you've been a victim of sexual violence or stalking, you want as many options as possible," Schoenfeld said.

She said students could call HAVEN, DPS, University Ministry and the Counseling Center for support. Violence survivors who call HAVEN are connected to a peer advocate program in which other students on campus will offer support to the victim.

According to the 2003 Safety Resource Guide published by the university, there was one non-forcible sex offense involving an acquaintance of the victim, one forcible fondling and one forcible sex offense reported to DPS.

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