Last Wednesday, the ISAO coordinated with the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre to organize its first sexual assault support workshop to raise awareness and debunk the various myths surrounding the issue.
Upon hearing the word “sexual assault,” most students would imminently think of a creepy masked person down an alley waiting to attack; however, statistics tell a different story.
Youth education coordinator at the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre (FSAC), Andie Marks, who presented at the workshop, says “around 78 per cent of assaults occur between people who know each other.”
“Too often we hear of perpetrators excusing sexual assaults because they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong,” said Ashley Young, youth education coordinator at FSAC.
The workshop provided participants with information regarding on-campus support services. Students who experienced or witnessed sexual assault can report the situation in three different ways.
UNB has appointed a Campus Sexual Assault Support Advocate (CSASA) on both campuses. The CSASA has been trained to be an initial and ongoing confidential counselor and he/she will help a victim access both on and off-campus services.
UNB Fredericton’s CSASA is Maggie Forsythe; her office can be found at Counseling Services on the second floor of CC Jones.
Confidential disclosure can also be provision of information to a UNB Counselor, physician, nurse or Human Rights Officer. Under confidential disclosure, all information provided by the complainant will remain in confidence except when the former advises otherwise.
UNB also has a Campus Sexual Assault Response Team to provide support to victims and the CSASA.
Formal complaints can be either internal or criminal in nature; for the former, the complaint has to be filed with UNB Campus Security and will be followed by an investigation.
However, in other cases, the victim may wish to file a criminal complaint with the local police.
The workshop organizer, Hillary Nguyen, shared her thoughts on hesitance by noting, “survivors [are] afraid to be stigmatized and get blamed for being sexually assaulted for a lot of reasons.”
The workshop on Wednesday had a total attendance of six students, which was within Nguyen’s expected range. Going forward, the ISAO is looking to get more students involved by partnering with faculty members and doing more workshops at different locations on campus.
“One of the biggest barriers can be motivating people to come out. People often shy away from talking about sexual assault, ” said Marks. In an attempt to create a more relaxed atmosphere, Marks and Young usually approach tougher subjects with humour and games.
An international student who attended the workshop, Betsy Ugberase, agreed.
“Having a game played helped in faster learning. I feel that more activities [like these] should be [implemented], as it might help to get more people involved.”
Photos by Maria Araujo.