University of Charleston

University of Charleston

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SAVE Program

College is a time of tremendous growth and opportunity, where our students not only gain invaluable life experience and education, but also create memories and friendships that last a lifetime.

But with these new experiences also come new challenges, and the risk of experiencing or perpetrating sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

1 in 4 college women and 1 in 16 college men in the U.S. will experience some form of sexual assault.  Approximately 90% of college sexual assault survivors knew the person who assaulted them.  These individuals are typically friends, acquaintances, or previous partners.  More than 40% of college women have experienced violence or abuse in a dating relationship, and those who experience stalking most often fall into the traditional college age range of 18-24.

In an effort to prevent these crimes from happening, the University of Charleston established the Sexual Awareness and Violence Education Program, or SAVE.

The SAVE Program is funded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) through the Campus Program grant.  Its ultimate objective is to help colleges and universities create effective, comprehensive responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

UC SAVE Program

A Coordinated Community Response team has been formed between members of Student Life, the Counseling Department, REACH (Rape Education Advocacy Counseling Healing), and members of the Charleston Police Department.

The SAVE Program has two main components: Awareness/Prevention and Support:

Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Q&A | What Now?

Sexual Assault and relationship violence can not only be hard to talk about, but it can also lead to some difficult questions about potential prosecution and the criminal justice system. Morgan Switzer is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Kanawha County and provides some guidance for sexual assault and relationship violence survivors wondering, “what now?”

 

  • A campus climate survey will be conducted in year 2 of the grant to further assess the needs of campus, as it relates to sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking, and safety.
  • An online training module Sexual Assault Prevention (EverFi) will be disseminated and mandatory for all new and incoming students.
  • An online training module Sexual Assault Prevention: Taking Action (EverFi) will be disseminated to all new and incoming students once they have completed the introductory Sexual Assault Prevention assignment.
  • An interactive workshop Bringing in the Bystander will be available to UC students and employees 2-3 times per year, in collaboration with community organization REACH.
    • Bringing in the Bystander is an evidence-based prevention workshop that explores concepts such as victim blaming, rape culture, and consent.
      • Participants learn the importance of speaking out against social norms that support a culture of sexual violence, are able to identify potential risks in a variety of situations, develop empathy and support for survivors, and explore how to safely interrupt or intervene in situations that could lead to sexual violence.
      • Evidence has shown that Bringing in the Bystander is effective in shifting attitudes, cultivating senses of bystander responsibility, and increases likelihood of participants intervening.
  • An interactive workshop on sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking, Sexual Awareness and Violence Education, will be provided to students each fall semester.
  • Awareness and prevention messages on consent, sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking will be disseminated throughout the year via social media, posters, pamphlets, etc.
  • Documentary screenings and other events will also be offered to students and employees.

 

Student Conduct

Student Conduct staff will receive increased training on sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking, as well as topics such as:  relevant evidence and how it should be used during a proceeding, proper techniques for questioning witnesses, basic procedural rules for conducting a proceeding, avoiding actual and perceived conflicts of interest, how survivors respond to trauma, bias when responding to LGBTQ survivors, bias when responding to survivors of color, responding to male survivors, and responding to survivors with disabilities.

 

Campus Security

Campus Security will receive increased training on sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking, as well as topics such as:  how survivors respond to trauma, trauma informed and survivor centered interview techniques, bias when responding to LGBTQ survivors, bias when responding to survivors of color, responding to male survivors, and responding to survivors with disabilities.

Additional security cameras will be installed in the residence halls to increase safety and security, and to help guide and assist in sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking investigations.

 

The University of Charleston, through partnership with REACH, will provide a 24/7 hotline, and confidential victim services for survivors of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking.

REACH will also provide accompaniment and advocacy for students and employees.  These services include supporting the client by providing emotional support, making sure they know their rights and options, preparing and aiding them during tasks such as doctor’s appointments, medical exams, police interviews, court dates, and accessing a personal safety order.  A confidential toll free 24-Hour hotline can be accessed anytime at 1-800-656-HOPE.

 

Student Conduct

Student Conduct staff will receive increased training on sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking, as well as topics such as:  relevant evidence and how it should be used during a proceeding, proper techniques for questioning witnesses, basic procedural rules for conducting a proceeding, avoiding actual and perceived conflicts of interest, how survivors respond to trauma, bias when responding to LGBTQ survivors, bias when responding to survivors of color, responding to male survivors, and responding to survivors with disabilities.

 

Campus Security

Campus Security will receive increased training on sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking, as well as topics such as:  how survivors respond to trauma, trauma informed and survivor centered interview techniques, bias when responding to LGBTQ survivors, bias when responding to survivors of color, responding to male survivors, and responding to survivors with disabilities.

Additional security cameras will be installed in the residence halls to increase safety and security, and to help guide and assist in sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking investigations.

 

Download the UC SAVE Survivor Guide

Students can contact Erin Dunmore at erindunmore@ucwv.edu or by calling/texting 304-590-2461 if they have any questions, need resources or referrals.  Students can contact the Title IX Coordinator, Virginia Moore at titleix@ucwv.edu or call 304-357-4987.

 

For safety concerns or to request an escort while on campus, students can call campus security (304-357-4857) at any time. There are also emergency call buttons on campus, illuminated by blue lights.

 

Residential students can reach out to their RAs if they are having any issues on campus.

 

Currently, all students can access free counseling by contacting Rance Berry, the campus counselor at uc-counselor@ucwv.edu or by calling 304-357-4862.

 

Students and employees can contact REACH (Rape Education, Advocacy, Counseling and Healing) at 304-340-3676 or by using the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.  REACH not only provides counseling for survivors, but also advocacy and accompaniment.  If someone needs support going to the hospital, police station, court dates, or doctors’ appointments, REACH can provide those services.  They can also clearly explain a survivor’s rights and options and help them decide what to do next.

 

The YWCA’s Family Resolve Program is also a great resource for Charleston students and employees.  They provide shelter and advocacy for survivors of dating and domestic violence and they can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-681-8663.

 

Beckley students and employees can contact any of the resources above, as well as the Women’s Resource Center at 1-888-825-7836.

Erin Dunmore is UC’s Sexual Awareness and Violence Education Project Director. She grew up in Canada but moved to West Virginia almost a decade ago, where she fell in love with the state and its many hiking trails.

Erin studied Sociology in college, and started her career in mental health, working with children and teens who had been sexually abused and assaulted. Through this work, she found that her passion was in prevention rather than crisis intervention. She started working for a non-profit, where she worked in sexual and relationship health, preventing dating violence, and teaching healthy relationships.

Accepting the job at UC was an opportunity that truly fit her goals and experience. “I felt a connection to this work for many reasons, including the personal experience of stalking,” she explained. “When my sister was in college, she was stalked for about 6 months by a complete stranger who happened to sit beside her in the school’s library. This person found her email address and started sending her obsessive emails and then showing up wherever she went. She finally involved campus security which made the stalker stop.”

Erin, too, has personal experience with the horror of being stalked.  “I was stalked and harassed in college by an ex-boyfriend after we broke up.  I would not have identified it as stalking at the time, but it absolutely was.” Erin received so many phone calls from him that she decided to stop answering. He proceeded to call from unknown numbers and leave awful and abusive messages. He also called the dorm phone obsessively, and other residents complained, and she had to disable the phone. This went on for many months, and she had to let her RA know what was going on because she was scared he was going to show up at her residence hall. Years later, her stalker was arrested for domestic violence when he physically assaulted his wife. As Erin reminds us, these crimes are often connected, and the abuse usually increases over time.”

Stalking behaviors tend to escalate, with the average stalking case lasting 2 years. Many people end up moving to different cities or states to escape their stalker. “Someone once said that “stalking is murder in slow motion” and that is what makes it so scary.”

Erin’s role at UC is to support the SAVE Program to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

“Sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking can happen to anyone, and happen much more often than people realize,” she states. ”It is very important to teach students about these crimes, as well as consent, healthy relationships, and controlling behavior. It is also important to inform people of the resources available, so survivors can make informed decisions about what to do next.”

Erin hopes that the outcome of the program at UC will mean a greater awareness and understanding of what sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking is for UC students, faculty, and staff, and to decrease these crimes.  “I also hope that the programs, training and resources we put in place will continue far beyond the life cycle of the grant.”

Erin has been working non-stop on the SAVE Program and the grant to inform students about these crimes and make the program known around campus. “We have been working to create a comprehensive prevention program, which includes mandatory education for students, bystander education for students and the campus community, and ongoing prevention and awareness messages, which we disseminate often on SAVE’s social media accounts.  Please follow us!!”

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Erin Dunmore

Sexual Awareness & Violence Education Project Director