Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. Approximately 80 percent of rape victims are under the age of 30. One in four women will be a victim of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault while in college. At the university level, 18.3 percent of students reported being in an emotionally abusive relationship. All of this is according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
A new UGA student organization, RSVP - Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention, aims to eliminate relationship and sexual violence from the UGA campus and community by spreading awareness on campus; educating the university community about the threats/effects/resources of sexual and relationship violence; providing a safe haven for support, healing and empowerment for those impacted by sexual or relationship violence; providing resources so the survivor can begin a successful healing process; and training fellow students to become proactive Sexual Assault Advocates. The Office of Violence Prevention provides Sexual Assault Advocacy training and also trains students to lead programs to educate peers and reduce the risk of sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment and dating violence. RSVP also challenges cultural attitudes and misconceptions that perpetuate, condone, sustain and contribute to violence on UGA's campus.
On April 3 at 7 p.m. in the Instructional Plaza N106, RSVP will host its first public educational forum. This educational forum, "Safety in the Classic City," is open to all UGA students and will challenge female and male perspectives on the definition of "consent" and what it means to be "mentally incapacitated" and therefore unable to give consent to sexual activity. This forum will also inform students about how to minimize their risk of becoming a victim of a crime and demonstrate how to assist a friend that is a victim of sexual assault, stalking, rape or relationship violence. All educational forums provided by RSVP will inform the audience of available emotional support services, medical resources, and legal advocacy resources on and off-campus.
On March 22 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., the Office of Violence Prevention will provide Sexual Assault Advocacy training to the members of RSVP and other interested students. Advocates will be trained to respond to a survivor and provide resource options to empower them while they make personal decisions and begin the healing process. Advocates are able to help other university students create a "personalized safety plan" that prepares them should their personal safety ever be compromised.
The long-term goal of RSVP is to have one or more members of every student organization at UGA trained to be a Sexual Assault Advocate. Once this is accomplished, the hope is that every survivor of sexual or relationship violence will have access to someone who can assist them in a healthy and successful healing process, can assist them in becoming peer advocates themselves and can further raise awareness of these issues at UGA.