Become an advocate this Sexual Assault Awareness month

Briana Osuna, Features Editor

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Christa Wencl held the position of Sexual Violence Advocate and Educator since Sept. 1, 2015. She provides support services to students and faculty that are connected to any type of sexual violence.

“My role offers a confidential support space for students, meaning that a report to me does not automatically trigger report to police or the university. If a student chooses and wants an investigation, they have two reporting options. They can report to Title IX for a university investigative process or to the University Police Department for a criminal investigation,” said Wencl.

Wencl said she was drawn to this type of work because she has always been aware of social justice issues within her community and family.

In college, Wencl studied human relations, oppression and social change. Wencl took a sexual assault course at her university to become a certified advocate. She then took on an assistantship at her university’s Gender Violence Resource office.

After her work on campus she worked in a domestic violence center for six years.

“Through these experiences I have learned so much. This field of work is incredibly meaningful to me, as sexual violence is a form of oppression and it is a way that I support in working towards social change. Supporting survivors is one form of social change as is providing education to work towards prevention,” said Wencl.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, Wencl provided ways that students can become advocates and help others.

“Students can become certified through the Women’s Resource Center or Center for Community Solutions to serve as advocates either on the hotline or respond to the hospital. Students can be active bystanders. Speak up against sexual violence. Believe, listen and support survivors. Learn more about myth of sexual violence, survivors and perpetrators to dispel them. Practice bystander intervention. Learn about rape culture and make changes to be part of a survivor supportive community,” said Wencl.

If you know someone who has experienced sexual violence Wencl said the best thing you can do is to listen, be supportive and let them know you believe them.

“Be open; healing from trauma can take all kinds of forms and different timelines, people do the best they can to move through it. Ask what you can do to help and let them know it’s ok if they are not sure right now. Let the person know if they want, you can offer some resources or make contact with an advocate to get more information if that would be helpful,” said Wencl.

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