Kayla May, Staff Writer
Saint Martin’s University and the surrounding community do not tolerate sexual violence, harassment, or assault. The University works hard to provide students with the resources they need to help them cope with these difficult experiences.
The university’s website outlines some steps to take if you have been a victim of any type of sexual violence.
The university advises that the first thing you should do if you experience any type of sexual violence is to tell someone you trust what has happened. On campus, the Counseling and Wellness Center (located in the Saint Raphael Center on the main floor) has a staff that is available to talk to in person, over the phone, or by Zoom.
If you do not feel comfortable talking to someone on campus, the university provides some other resources off campus to talk to over the phone, such as The Crisis Clinic (360-586-2800), St Peter’s Hospital (360-491-9480), SafePlace’s 24-hour helpline (360-754-6300), and the Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-562-6025).
SafePlace is an organization located in downtown Olympia dedicated to assisting survivors of sexual and domestic violence in getting back on their feet and figuring out the next steps. They offer drop-in advocacy meetings where victims are provided safety planning, resources and referrals, and any other assistance necessary.
SafePlace also offers emergency shelter for those fleeing stalking or abuse and need a place to stay temporarily. Their residence has ten bedrooms and 28 beds serving high-risk adults and their children. This space is meant to help survivors as they transition away from an abusive environment and assist them in finding permanent residency.
Another service offered at SafePlace is a sexual assault support group every Wednesday at 6 p.m. If you are unable to make it during this time or are looking for a different kind of support group, they can connect you with other groups within the area.
After talking to someone you trust about your situation, the university suggests that you report the incident to the police, even if you do not wish to press charges. This is only recommended if you feel comfortable doing so and if you personally will benefit from doing so.
Some actions may violate University policy, although might not constitute criminal activity. Therefore, it is recommended that, if the assault/violence took place on campus, you should report it to one of the available options on campus, the Dean of Students (360-438-4367), Director of Housing and Residence Life (360-486-8856), Director of Public Safety (360-486-8876) or the University’s Title IX Coordinator (360-438-4555).
It is also encouraged by the university for you to seek medical attention within 72 hours of the assault.
It is not always easy to talk about these situations, especially right after they have happened. Some survivors never discuss it all and it can affect their physical, mental, and emotional help.
Saint Martin’s recently developed a program called Saints Care that allows students to submit a report about a fellow classmate or friend that seems to be struggling. The Saints Care team is composed of staff and faculty members, all dedicated to supporting Saint Martin’s students in any way they can.
After the report is submitted, a member of the Saints Care team will reach out with a request for additional information within two-three business days. They will then reach out to the subject of the report to offer any support and assistance. As the reporter, you will be updated on the outreach and any other pertinent information.
Saint Martin’s University works hard to make the campus a safe and welcoming place. Yet, when violence occurs, we must support those affected. RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, explains that “For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgmental as possible.”
They further explain on their page titled “Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault”, that although providing resources and encouraging them to take the next steps are important, most often, listening is the best way to support a survivor.
The page also describes ways to display continued support, such as avoiding judgment, checking in periodically, and knowing your resources. If you want more information from this article, you can find it linked here: Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault | RAINN.
“There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence,” RAINN states. By understanding this, we, as a university and community, can better be there to support sexual violence victims.