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Loyola launches Sexual Assault Advocacy Initiative

Loyola press release - February 7, 2011

The Office of Student Affairs has recently launched a Sexual Assault Response Advocacy Initiative, which seeks to train campus advocates to respond to students who have experienced a sexual assault.

The initiative will host its first training session for campus advocates on Saturday, Feb. 12, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Monroe Hall, Room 251. Students, faculty and staff will be trained in the following strategic areas: knowledge of the interpersonal dynamics of sexual assault and common reactions of victims; information regarding Louisiana’s legal definitions; how to communicate with victims during in a crisis; medical options; Loyola resources and NOPD resources; and skill building activities.

Once trained, advocates will be identified via multiple university web pages and the display of the advocates logo at their office, on their residence hall door, or on their backpacks.

Both Loyola University and the New Orleans communities have numerous resources for the women and men who experience attempted or completed rape. Medical forensic examination, individual counseling, group therapy, judicial and legal resources are just a few of the avenues through which survivors can seek support and assistance. Programs held on Loyola’s campus such as Take Back the Night and the Clothesline Project raise awareness and seek to shatter the silence surrounding gender-based violence.

Yet, many victims, unsure of their options and uncertain who to trust in the wake of sexual violence, remain isolated and disconnected from supportive resources. It is estimated by the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault that nationally more than half of college women who have been sexually assaulted do not report their assault.

Loyola’s Advocacy Initiative is designed to address this specific campus need: to have trained individuals from across the university serve as a connecting resource between those in need and available resources. The advocate’s role is to listen with empathy, to provide support in crisis, and to offer information regarding a variety of options. Ultimately, it is the victim, not the advocate, who decides which resources will be utilized.

In future semesters, the Office of Student Affairs and collaborating university members envision broadening the scope of the Advocacy Initiative to include peer education components and to provide information on a wider spectrum of interpersonal violence within the collegiate population.

If you would like to become part of this visible network of support for victims of sexual violence or would like further information about the Advocacy Initiative, contact Brooks Zitzmann (bzitzman@loyno.edu) in the University Counseling Center. Please RSVP by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 9. If you cannot make the Feb. 12 training, another training session will be held in the fall.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.