By Jasmine Lee and Alexis Boufarah
The Anti-Violence Initiatives (AVI) team held their first virtual Supporting Survivors meeting of the year on Oct. 14. The meeting was centered around power-based personal violence — a topic the moderators felt all students should be informed of.
“As students, we have a real impact and a real voice on campus and an opportunity to be a part of the prevention,” said Kiana Stockwell, a senior political science major who has been an AVI intern for the past three years.
The team covered various topics during the meeting, including on- and off-campus resources and ways that students can support survivors of power-based personal violence.
The event’s moderators from the AVI team classified power-based personal violence as an umbrella term for sexual assault, domestic dating violence and stalking. The presentation expressed how power-based personal violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexuality or class.
“Students at TCNJ and just students in general are more likely to receive disclosures by our friends as opposed to a survivor going to any other resource,” Stockwell said.
The audience gained information about the different ways in which this violence can occur, and stressed the importance of knowing how to help those who have been violated.
Stockwell proceeded to talk about Title IX and topics related to sexual misconduct.
Title IX is a federal law that protects individuals at federally-funded institutions. It protects these individuals who are subjected to gender discrimination, harassment, violence, stalking and retaliation. Stockwell highlighted the changes that were made to the Title IX regulations over the summer, such as the requirement for schools to dismiss allegations that occur outside of campus-controlled buildings. Many changes raised concern among students.
The group then held an activity regarding disclosures and what the right thing to say would be if someone decided to share their experience.
“Unfortunately, our society has lots of ways of silencing survivors, showing them that we don’t believe them or blaming them for what was done to them,” said Aria Sen, a senior biology major, second-year Student Anti-Violence Education (SAVE) peer educator and AVI intern.
Disclosure describes unveiling the truths that need to be communicated in order to receive closure within oneself and between others. According to the presentation, disclosing something can give anyone with fear the chance to feel validation and reassurance.
According to Stockwell, if someone discloses information to you, it is important to project a message of understanding and trust through your verbal and physical language toward the other person. When it comes to trauma, the fear of acknowledging the truth of what has occurred can hurt immensely when combined with the fear of disclosing a truth that will be met with judgment and disbelief.
AVI held this activity to show attendees common ways that people may respond to disclosure. The ways in which people respond to those who do decide to share their experiences can have a big impact on what the survivor decides to do in the future, revealing the power of words. 3r
The AVI team made sure to mention that disclosure is a vital part of the healing process, but the support of these survivors does not end there.
“People do not often just get over traumatic experiences or situations,” said Gaby Valentino, a senior psychology major and an AVI intern. “It has a lasting impact on how we experience the world.”