SAVE seeks to educate students

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, April 5, 2012

While police continue their investigation into two sexual assaults last Monday, Troy University’s Sexual Assault and Violence Education Program is beginning its month-long campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In the United States, April is designated as a time to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate people on how to prevent sexual abuse.

“Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted,” said Jenny Duncan, assistant coordinator and counselor for the S.A.V.E Project. “That is staggering.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And college-aged women are at an even higher risk, she said.

Here in Troy, and in smaller towns all over, people can be lulled into a false sense of security, Duncan explained.

“We fail to see the danger sometimes,” she said.

Duncan said it’s important for people to be aware of themselves and their surroundings, and for women who are interested in self defense to enroll in the Rape Aggression Defense classes offered through the university.

“Even with precautions though, sometimes things happen and we want to help women and men through that time afterward,” Duncan said.

Duncan shared that most people would be surprised to find out how often a sexual assault occurs in the community.

“It’s the most under reported crime in the United States,” she said. “We see a good number and that’s only a small percentage of the victims out there.”

As part of SAAM, the S.A.V.E. Project is putting up creative posters and banners across campus and is handing out teal awareness bracelets on the Quad this week. S.A.V.E. is also posting sexual assault statistics on social media sites and will host “These Hands Don’t Hurt” on April 18. During that day, students and others on campus will be invited to put their handprints on a banner signifying their commitment to a violence-free campus.

The S.A.V.E. project is open to all Troy University students and provides free counseling and advocacy services. Duncan wants sexual assault victims to know she and the other counselors offer a safe haven to talk about their situations and figure out how to let go of the different emotions, including fear and shame, they may feel.

And sexual abuse doesn’t just mean rape, sexual assault also encompasses fondling, unwanted touching and date rape.

“Sexual assault is such a violation. It is so traumatic. It is so horrendous,” Duncan said.

“Everybody copes differently, but common threads are shame and embarrassment. Sometimes people are worried they won’t be believed. We are here to help.”

The S.A.V.E. Project is part of the university’s Student Services division. S.A.V.E. is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and counselors can be reached at 670-3700.