Correction: Project D.A.T.E. does not offer counseling services, the University Counseling Services does.
April is sexual assault awareness month, and several organizations on and off campus will be hosting events and promoting their cause: to help victims.
“We (Project D.A.T.E.) offer peer to peer education programs, resources, knowledge, counseling, hotline help, and offer a safe place for the victims/ survivors,” said June Kwon, program director.
Project D.A.T.E, an acronym for discovering alternatives for today’s encounters, is a non-profit organization that allows students up to eight sessions per academic year. It’s sponsored through the University Counseling Services (Bayramian Hall 520).
Kwon, who has been involved with the organization for six years, stresses the importance of spreading awareness by asking, what can we do to help students? And why blame the victim?
“Be aware of the issue and embrace survivor space,” Kwon said. “Empower the support system and remember, it’s never the victims fault.”
Bonnie Bailer, director of the center for healthier communities at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, has been involved with CATS (Center for Assault Treatment Services Program), for 13 years.
“We serve 1,000 people per year primarily in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita areas, but victims can come from anywhere,” Bailer said.
According to Bailer, the bill SB 534 prevents victims from being charged for sexual assault forensic exams, an exam that looks for DNA evidence, such as bruises.
“The Valley Trauma Center is a critical partner of ours and they are advocates for resources in the community,” Bailer said.
Other resources, such as Klotz Health Center, RAINN, Women’s Law, and 1in6 are useful support systems helping millions of victims and survivors. 1in 6 is an organization that helps men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives.
Mark Stevens, director of University Counseling Services, has educated people on the effects of rape since 1983 at various college campuses.
“Sexual assault hurts everybody,” Stevens said.
The public needs to understand that males are targets of sexual assault, he said. In addition, we need to work in the right direction, it’s an ongoing effort inside and outside classrooms.
“The issue is important because men are ashamed sexually and silence the experience,” Stevens said. “We need to deal with men emotional health.”
According to Stevens, another real issue is finding ways for men to be more comfortable reporting that they’ve been sexually violated.
“For men, they are victims usually when they are younger and under 16,” Stevens said.
CATS 10th anniversary run is April 15 in Lake Balboa Park, Encino and has a 5K/10K (walk/run) and a kids fun run. Included in the event are food, drinks, and martial arts activities.
“We rely on volunteers and the money we raise goes to charity,” Bailer said. “Our sponsor this year is Wells Fargo Bank and Rafer Johnson is our spokesperson.”
Registration opens up at 6:30 a.m.
“Everyone does warm up exercises and for the 10th anniversary, we are handing out a finisher medal for everyone.”