Lunch Chat Supports Survivors during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Allen Lin, Staff Writer- 

A Lunch Chat was held to support sexual assault survivors virtually on Wednesday, April 7 via Zoom in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

Megan McKnight, the assistant director for education and prevention of the Center for Student Wellbeing, explained the purpose and why it is important to attend events like this. 

“The event is meant to be a discussion with students about how best to support survivors of sexual violence,” McKnight said. “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and we want to provide an opportunity for students to learn and enhance their helping skills. We’ll talk about things like language, content warnings, resources, and taking care of yourself when you are in a role helping others.” 

This event welcomed participants from various departments on campus ranging from the Center for Student Wellbeing to the Counseling Center and the Center for Women and Gender Equity to speak to students on ways we can support survivors. 

“Attending a program like this one or others that are happening this month can be a good start. Educating yourself and strengthening your understanding of sexual violence and the impact on survivors is important,” McKnight said. “And truly one of the best things you can do to support a survivor is listen non-judgmentally, tell them you believe them, and make sure they know that resources are available to further support them.” 

Some ways include listening and not questioning the survivors’ experience, utilizing language that is inclusive, becoming educated on this issue, including content warnings on social media posts, and taking care of yourself before you can take care of others. 

Sara Peters, the director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity, talked about the importance of respecting the victim and their choice to not report the assault. 

“You have to trust them, ask them what they want and what they need and be supportive and say, I’m always here for you if you need anything,” Peters said. 

Unfortunately, no students were in attendance at this event. If you or your friends are experiencing sexual assault or gender-based violence, there are two ways to get help. 

Contact confidential resources that are available and would not disclose your information. These resources include the Counseling Center and the Survivor Advocacy Services which are both on campus. You can also call the 24/7 care hotline at (423)425-CARE. 

Contact non-confidential resources which are required to report assault as stated by law. Student Outreach and Support and the Center for Student Wellbeing can provide means to attend court hearings, medical examinations, or assistance in changing dorms. Other community resources in Chattanooga include the Crisis Center and Cempa, which provide STI testing and medical examinations.

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