Monday, May 5, 2014

Community College of Aurora helps in fight against ‘epic’ sexual assault problem

Lindsay Beaudry, director of prevention and education with the Blue Bench Project, called sexual assault first and foremost a societal problem but also “an epic, epic public health issue” that takes billions away from the economy when victims can’t work, need medical care, or require psychological help. Her organization estimates that an astounding 1 in 4 women (and 1 in 17 men) in Colorado will have an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime.

Undaunted, Beaudry and others gathered at CCA, one of the , on April 17 for the Sixth Annual Take Back The Night event, armed with methodologies aimed at curbing the violence. Two key points were put forward to the hundreds of CCA students and community members in attendance. And that informational push centered upon two seemingly disparate elements in the sexual assault conversation: tying together sexual empowerment with a growing trend called pro-social bystanding.

“A pro-social bystander is somebody who recognizes something is wrong, assesses for their safety and decides that it’s OK to act, first off, and then does something to help somebody who needs it,” Beaudry explained. “That can be making a phone call. That can be intervening and saying, ‘Hey, I don’t think that girl wants to talk to youright now,’ or ‘I’m not going to let you go home with that man. Those things are all pro-social behaviors. Following up with somebody after a party is another. ‘I saw that you were a little uncomfortable. Do you want to talk about it?

“Pro-social bystanding can happen before, during and after an assault, and it really changes the main frame of how sexual assault is experienced. Because if somebody has an unwanted sexual experience and somebody comes forward and says, ‘Can I help you?,’ or ‘I believe you,’ that can change the trajectory of that survivor’s recovery incredibly.”

Pro-social bystanding is seen as an important tool in the fight against sexual assault because it removes blame from the victim and puts the responsibility on everyone to address this pervasive societal problem. “That message was incredibly impactful to CCA students because they said they knew what they can do now,” said Jenn Dale, Psychology faculty and organizer of the college’s Take Back the Night events.

See the complete article on gnomes national news.