The Sexual Assault Response Team is dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault issues in the Georgia Southern Community. It is a multidisciplinary team with representatives from various on and off-campus departments and organizations, such as the Counseling Center, Health Services, Equal Opportunity & Title IX, Housing, Office of Student Activities, and the Teal House. It is our hope, that through education and consciousness raising, the incidence and ignorance of sexual assault can be drastically reduced. SART strives to continually update the services offered to sexual assault survivors. Our goal is to communicate to survivors that they are not alone through their recovery. SART sponsors the student organization, Sexual Assault Student Educators (SASE).
SART has been actively involved in Sexual Assault Awareness Programming on the national level. The team has been recognized for its outstanding breadth of activities at conferences and by well-known activists. In 2007, SART founded the Georgia College Sexual Assault Association Network to coordinate efforts throughout the state for legislative reform regarding sexually violent crimes. And in 2008, SART was awarded the Gold Excellence Award from NASPA for programming in the area of Health and Wellness.
The Georgia Southern University Sexual Assault Response Team is committed to reducing the incidence of sexual violence, continually improving the response to and support for survivors, and educating our community about the realities of sexual violence and its aftermath. We are aware of many misleading, though well-intentioned, messages regarding traumatic response and prevention that have been recently circulating in media sources. As professionals entrenched in the field of sexual violence & traumatic response, we would like to stress the following:
a.) The responsibility to prevent assault and abduction is on the perpetrator. Walking in groups, avoiding dark areas, avoiding alcohol consumption, having self-defense skills/ carrying pepper spray, being aware of your surroundings, etc., are excellent strategies for reducing one’s risk of being assaulted. However, as uncomfortable a reality as it may be, no one can prevent an assault other than the assailant. Talking about “risk reduction strategies” using language of “prevention” inaccurately puts the responsibility for the assault on the victim – thus, further victimizing that individual.
b.) High profile incidents, such as recently occurred, heighten our awareness of violence in our world. It is because these incidents are unusual that they gain media attention. It is important to recognize that they are statistically rare. According to RAINN (a national repository of research on sexual violence), seven out of ten sexual assaults are completed by individuals whom the victim knows, the minority are completed by strangers. Incidences of abduction and assault by strangers are extremely rare, and do not indicate a rise in violence in the community in which they occur. When rare incidents of violence occur, they can lead to a heightened sense of community vigilance. That heightened sense can cause an inaccurate perception of the actual level of risk. The Georgia Southern community remains a safe place to learn, live, and thrive.
c.) All responses to traumatic events, during and after the event, are natural and normal. There is no one way, or best way, to respond to potential violence. All responses to sexual violence are made in an effort to survive, and are all therefore, “brave” responses. Every person experiences their own, unique response to trauma; no two people will respond to a trauma in the same manner. The severity of a trauma, or the emotional/physical impact of a trauma cannot be measured by the victim’s observable response: whether that is numbness, intellectualization, hysteria, overt emotion, complete disconnection – there are endless ways in which we, as unique individuals, with unique histories will respond to and heal from trauma. All victim responses are valid and should be supported; all victims do what they believe is necessary to survive; all victims – those who come through a trauma and those who do not are BRAVE. By highlighting some actions as “exceptional” we convey that other actions were somehow not as “good.” Again, we can inadvertently cause further harm to victims.
d.) Bystanders can feel trauma too. When trauma impacts members of our community, it can cause any of us to question our own safety, our own previously held beliefs about the world. Even if a particular trauma does not physically touch you, you may find that you are experiencing trauma related symptoms. We encourage anyone who has been experiencing distress following this, or other public events to seek support: clergy, counselors, friends, family may all be helpful in these time. For GS students, free counseling is available on the Statesboro campus 912-478-5541 and on the Armstrong campus 912-344-2529. For community members, sliding scale counseling is available at the GS Psychology Clinic 912-478-5539, and many other area providers. For victims and family of victims of sexual violence, free counseling and other services are available at the Teal House (Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center) 912-489-6060 and at the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire 912-233-3000. A national hotline is also available through RAINN 800.656.HOPE (4673).
e.) GS SART will continue to utilize empirically-validated messaging when implementing events to reduce the incidence of sexual violence, including: focusing on education, bystander intervention, and survivor support services. We hope that our community will join us in placing the blame for violence squarely where it belongs – on the perpetrators of such violence, rather than putting the responsibility to avoid violence on the potential victim.
For more information on GS SART, please contact Dr. Jodi Caldwell or Dr. Lauren Patterson at 912-478-5541.
SART Graduate Assistant 2018-2019
Carolyn Miller, B.S.
Hello, my name is Carolyn Miller. I graduated from Georgia Southern University in Spring of 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Child and Family Development. In Fall 2018, I will begin Graduate School at Georgia Southern University to obtain a Masters of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am interested in Intimate Partner Violence and underserved populations. In the future I hope to work in a hospital setting or in private practice. For fun I enjoy listening to music and going to concerts, traveling, and cooking (and of course eating). I also love animals and have a kitten named Moon and a pug named Brutus.
On April 17, 2018 representatives from SART, SASE, and Health Promotions attended the 21st Annual Leadership Awards Banquet. SASE was nominated for Small Student Organization of the Year, It’s On Us Week, organized by SART member and Health Promotions Coordinator Gemma Skuraton, was nominated for Best Program of the Year, SASE advisor Dr. Lauren Patterson was nominated for Advisor of the Year, SASE President Kristen Baker received the Southern Talon Award, SASE Vice President Jess Bryant was nominated for the John F. Nolen, Jr. Hall of Leaders Award for excellence in Service & Leadership, and SASE member Raisa Gallegos was nominated for the Higgs-McCarter Active Citizenship Award. We are so proud!
If you are interested in joining SART or would like to request a presentation, please contact Dr. Jodi Caldwell at (912) 478-5541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see how SART is raising awareness in the community, check our events page.