VPAS provides sex education through tabling event
Jackson Volenec – Reporter
The Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support Center is holding informationals on campus to educate people about the resources available to any students who are victims of violence or abuse of any kind, and allows for students to get support they need.
VPAS group has been a resource for students for several years on campus, and is designed to help any victim (or bystanders who have witnessed abuse) be able to feel safe and share their stories with a support group that can help guide them.
“We do violence prevention on the topic of sexual misconduct, which includes assault, sexual violence, stalking, etc.,” said Melissa Kissi, a Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at VPAS.
VPAS holds several events on campus all year, including its“What in the World is VPAS?” informational that was held at the student center on Jan 29. The event helped discuss what VPAS is to people on campus, the resources they provide to students, and what students can do to take advantage of those resources if they need help. There were also giveaways and prizes during the event to catch student’s attention.
There is a branch of VPAS known as the Support and Resource Team, which is a group on campus that support to victims, including “counseling, medical attention, judicial services, advocacy, law enforcement, referrals, and general information regarding sexual violence,” according to VPAS’ webpage.
“The mission of SART is to provide services that ensure a transition from victim to survivor for every individual impacted by sexual misconduct,” according to the VPAS webpage.
VPAS members make sure to get as much exposure as possible on campus, as they hold multiple events throughout the year to show students there is help available any time they need. There are two full-time counselors who are here to help victims, and are available 24/7.
“I think that victim advocacy is one of the most important pieces of getting justice for those who are survivors of sexual misconduct,” said social work major Amanda Valentin, a senior and student VPAS worker.
Other events include their upcoming “Netflix and No Chill” event on Feb. 10. This event is designed to discuss sexual consent as a topic, and will dive into the details of healthy sexual communication and the importance of affirmative consent.
Throughout the month of February, they are also holding events that will discuss topics such as stalking.
Primarily, we’re focused on the sexual misconduct prevention,” said Kissi. “We want everyone who has experienced such a thing to know they have a place they can come to for help if they want it.” This support from VPAS is available at any time for students in crisis or in need of advice.
“We can come and meet with sexual assault survivors. It doesn’t matter if they experienced something in the last week, month, year, ten years, it doesn’t matter,” said Kissi. “If they feel like they need assistance for support, say they want information about a restraining order, or anything, we’re here to support that student. “
Although VPAS is always here as a resource to victims of sexual misconduct, Kissi emphasizes the importance of not feeling pressure to go and talk to someone about your experience unless you feel comfortable doing so.
“For some people, they can heal without telling anyone. It’s different for every person, so I would say don’t feel pressured to go and talk to someone about your experience if you’re uncomfortable,” said Kissi. “Everyone’s path is different.”
Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo