The Florida A&M University Police Department is working in conjunction with Tallahassee’s Refuge House, the Florida Council of Sexual Violence and health educators to inform students and faculty about the prevention and treatment of sexual assault.
A problem that is often swept under the rug, sexual assault is as prevalent today as it has ever been. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reported that someone in America is sexually assaulted every two minutes.
This statistic emphasizes the need to create an open campus dialogue regarding the prevention of sexual assault and treatment for victims.
FAMU PD and the Office of Counseling Services work with outside agencies to help students who are victims of sexual assault.
Fear of the stigma that results from a sexual assault can often keep people from speaking out and finding the help they need, said FAMU counselor Allison Lockard. In fact one of the biggest issues victims face is the decision to report or not to report a sexual assault and whom to tell, Lockard said.
Cpl. Sherri Luke of FAMU PD explained what students should do if a sexual assault occurs.
“Students need to know they don’t have to file a police report to receive treatment, but they should look to someone for help,” Luke said. “Someone might just need a lending ear, someone else might need long-term counseling, or someone might need a relocation; we work with the people that can help do all these things for victims of sexual assault.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and FAMU PD, along with OCS, will be participating in the Clothesline Project starting April 1 – 4. FAMU PD and OCS said the project emphasizes the importance of awareness regarding sexual assault and its consequences.
“Even if you’re not having adverse effects from the sexual assault right away, I’d still recommend counseling because often victims don’t know how it’s affecting them negatively… and sometimes things manifest later,” Lockard said.
Many students and faculty do not realize there are programs on FAMU’s campus to facilitate the proactive prevention of abductions and situations that could lead to sexual assault.
Luke referred to a number of options that can be seen on FAMU’s Web site such as the Rape, Aggression and Defense program. Classes are available on campus.
The courses consist of defense training that culminates with a reality-based scenario in which students must use all the skills they’ve learned to get away from the “assailant.”
“If we could get more educational programs out there for awareness on campus that ‘no means no’ that would help the situation greatly,” Luke said.
The project will allow students and faculty to design T-shirts in recognition of those who are or who know victims of sexual assault.
“Students can come in the week of March 24 to design shirts for the cause,” Lockard said.
FAMU PD will be present April 1 with information regarding sexual assault.
“FAMU Police Department works more than just the criminal aspect of it (sexual assault), we’re with our students cradle to grave,” Luke said. “From the beginning of the process to the end.”
For more information about sexual assault prevention, contact FAMU PD at (850) 599-3256 or go online to www.famu.edu.
For more information about the Clothesline Project, contact Allison Lockard in Sunshine Manor at 599-3145 or email@example.com.