A Safe Place for Victims

Rachel Pukall rpuka198@uwsp.edu

When dealing with sexual assault, many students are left unsure of what to do and where to go.

Safe Point was in response to the identified need for increased awareness of resources for victims of sexual assault on campus. Safe Point currently has 12 committee members who have had non-emergency response training for sexual assault victims.

“Our hope is that if someone has been sexually assaulted, and they don’t really know where to turn, where the resources are or where to get help, they would seek out one of the members of Safe Point, and we would give them their options of different resources that they could use,” said Julie Zsido, a Safe Point faculty member.

“Students are afraid, they’re hurt, they’re upset, they’re mad. There’s so many different emotions that go along with being a victim that we can help them with just by listening to them,” Zsido said.

Safe Point is affiliated with the university, and the members have been trained with the resources available on campus, making it a reliable resource for students.

“There is a Sexual Assault Victim Service which is designed to help community members who have been assaulted, but if there was someone who wasn’t a student that came and talked to me, I would still talk to them about what their options are,” Zsido said.

Safe Point is a resource group, but it is also interested in sexual assault prevention and education. The Student Health Promotion Office facilitates sexual assault education and prevention programs in the residence halls.

“I supervise the Student Health Promotion Office, which is staffed by our peer educators called Health Advocates,” said Stacey Duellman, another faculty member of Safe Point. “Health Advocates facilitate programs, work with the residence halls on different events and staff the office by giving stress-relief sessions.”

Health Advocates are trained in six areas of expertise: fitness; nutrition; stress management; tobacco; alcohol; and sexual assault education and prevention.

Duellman and Zsido both believe that the desire to help students has driven this group together.

“I work with students on a daily basis and want them to have a safe place to talk about sexual assault. I became involved because I genuinely care about students safety and academic success. Victims need a safe place to talk about sexual assault and someone who can be a good resource for them,” Duellman said.

Liz Gillmore, a member of Safe Point, has had students come to her and report sexual assaults.

“Safe Point trained me on the campus and community resources to where I can refer a victim. I now have the knowledge to confidently refer a student to a resource that meets the victim’s needs,” Gillmore said.

Zsido and the other staff and faculty members of Safe Point feel that the hardest part is getting the word out there that the program exists. This is difficult because both students and faculty members turn over each year. The Safe Point members have been going to departmental meetings to help faculty and staff understand who they are and what they do.

“There is a panel next week of all different kinds of resources throughout the community and on campus, and I’m sitting in on that panel to kind of help educate people that we exist and talk about our program,” Zsido said. According to Swanson, the team has had to practice in some SAF member’s garages. “We are still waiting for the university to find us a real indoor practice site,” Spencer Johnson said.

If you are interested in joining the team, students are asked to attend a SAF meeting and speak with the Woodland Sports coordinators.

“We are always looking for new members to join,” said senior Rainey Johnson.

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