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St. Mary’s University – Together we will end violence!
A mere 4 hour drive from Beaumont, TX lies the idyllic campus of St. Mary’s University right in the heart of San Antonio. This was the final stop on my Texas tour and in fact 3 campus organizations combined forces to host us: Student Government, Interfraternity Council and Collegiate Panhellenic Council. Thank you all so much for bringing Students Fight Back to your campus!
I learned from the sponsors in advance of this presentation that due to a more supportive reporting climate at St. Mary’s recently that there have been an increase in sexual assault reports. Students were on edge and concerned that this was because there were more assaults happening so we discussed this today. We explained that more reports usually means that survivors are feeling more comfortable, supported and confident to report their assaults which explains the uptick in the reporting numbers. It can seem counterintuitive however; this phenomenon is seen in the sexual assault prevention community quite often so I think we were able to set the students’ minds at ease. We always encourage survivors to report, but that choice lies solely with the survivor and the important thing is to support them no matter what they decide to do.
Another topic we discussed in depth was the importance of being an ally and active bystander. It is easier than you think and one of our favorite techniques here at SFB is non-complementary behavior. That means responding to the person in a way that is opposite how they’re acting. You can switch the energy around by using humor or asking a completely unrelated question. This is a tactic we can all use and of course, if a situation is violent we recommend calling 911.
During Q&A some great questions came up like “What if a man is being attacked by a woman…do they respond the same way we just learned?” The answer is Yes! If you feel like your life is in danger you are absolutely allowed to defend yourself regardless of your gender identity. Plus the methods we teach can be used on attackers of any gender…all humans have the same ‘hot spots’. We do want to point out that although attacks on men by women do happen, the vast majority of attacks on both men and women are perpetrated by other men. The best advice we can offer is that you have to use your own intuition and awareness to make decisions for yourself in situations that arise in your life. Bottom line is that you are worth fighting for!
Thank you again for having me and for being such awesome participants! You are your own best protector now go out and live your life fearlessly!