The Cougar Chronicle

Sexual assault advocate urges support for survivors

Jadan Smithers, Assistant News Editor

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CSUSM has began its annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month events and programs with Start By Believing Day on April 4.

“This is sort of our kickoff event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is April,” said Christa Wencl, the Sexual Assault and Violence Advocate and Educator at CSUSM.

The event lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the USU and included activities, games and prizes to encourage students to believe individuals when they say they are survivors of sexual
harassment and assault, and provide them with a supportive community.

Wencl said, “If family and friends can start with the phrase ‘we believe you, we support you’ that will eventually lead to possibly a survivor saying ‘okay I have support, I can do this, I’m gonna report to the police,’ [and] we’re gonna convict more people that are committing sexual violence crimes.”

According to Wencl, Although, CSUSM is one of the safest college campuses in California, however it is not immune to sexual harassment and assault. In the last two and a half years, she said she has helped more than 200 students with issues related to sexual harassment and assault.

“More sexual assault awareness events and programs will be held at CSUSM throughout April. Organizations such as Student Health and Counseling Services, the Black Student Center, the Gender Equity Center, Associated Students Inc. and many others will collaborate to host these events,” said Wencl.

These events will include presentations like ‘Healthy Relationships 101’ and ‘Revenge Porn: Is it a Crime?’ on April 11 to discuss issues related to sexual harassment and assault. There will also be interactive events like the ‘Clothesline Project’ on April 16 where survivors and allies can write messages on T-shirts that will be displayed in the Quad Courtyard and ‘A Walk in Their Shoes’ on April 12 where students can learn about the lives of students.

The month’s premier event ‘Take Back the Night’ will be held on April 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will include presentations, a survivor’s circle where participants can discuss their experiences and a march around campus.

Students seeking counseling and support can meet with Wencl on campus Monday through Friday from 8a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Student Health and Counseling Services building. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 760-750-4915 and is available for appointments or walk-ins. Meetings with Wencl are confidential and do not require an official reporting of sexual crimes

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