Counseling Center brings awareness to dating violence, one workshop at a time

By Julia Marbach

Whether it is the beginning of freshman year or the end of a seniors’ last semester, campus life can consist of everything from going to bars to late night studying. But within all aspects of dating and relationships, the reality of sexual assault and dating violence has become a more prevalent problem on college campuses across the nation.   

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Counseling Center is offering a Dating 101 workshop in which students are given the chance to talk about unhealthy relationships on college campuses.

“Sexual violence is definitely very prevalent on all college campuses unfortunately,” said Nami Doshi, graduate assistant with the Trauma Treatment Team. “One in four to five women will experience attempted or completed rape within their time in college, and that’s specific to rape. But there are also various other things that count as sexual assault that happens on campus.” 

Doshi said the workshop is meant to be interactive with various topics ranging from unhealthy relationships to the bystander effect and how to define consent. 

“It’s good to just be aware of what abusive relationships are and know where to seek help on campus especially,” said Yarah Kudaimi, Counseling Center paraprofessional and senior in LAS. “I’m really, really emphasizing all these resources because college is a time when all of these resources are available to you, and they may not be there when you graduate.”

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Doshi said often times there are misconceptions that to be an active bystander, the actions needs to be direct. However, there are three approaches to being an active bystander: being direct, delegating and distracting. 

While being direct is the most commonly known response, delegating can be helpful when referring a person in need to a professional third party, such as the Counseling Center, Doshi said. Distracting can be used during emergency situations. 

“So if you see something happening, maybe distracting one of the two in the relationship and kind of standing up in those actual moments where they see actual abuse escalating,” Doshi explained.

The workshops are also tailored to specific audiences, depending on the size of the group and its demographics. 

“Sometimes we’ll have them break into pairs and do an activity to demonstrate lack of consent and what that might mean in day-to-day activities, but then how it applies to sexual violence,” Doshi said. “We also do interactive pieces where we would give cards of what a bystander might be thinking and how that may be a barrier to intervening … or we will ask questions and read vignettes, or (do) a red flag game where we talk about warning signs in relationships.”

The workshops are free and open to the public. According to Chris Lofton, Counseling Center paraprofessional and junior in LAS, anyone interested should not hesitate to attend. 

“We don’t want people to think that we’re attacking their relationships or anything. We just want people who are interested in noticing things and stepping up and making a difference at times when they do notice something,” Lofton said. “So, if they’re on the fence and they think that maybe we might make them feel uncomfortable, they don’t have to worry about that because we have a nice open space where they can take time and give their experiences — if they want to.” 

While the workshop is specifically tailored to dating violence, anyone who has experienced sexual violence may find it beneficial, Doshi said. 

“Even though (the workshop) doesn’t speak directly to sexual violence itself … it is talking about sexual violence because dating violence is just more long-term than, say, a one-time rape, because it may be happening over and over with the same person,” Doshi said.

Although the original workshop was scheduled for Monday at noon at the Native American House, the Counseling Center’s Trauma Treatment Team said anyone interested in having the workshop can contact them.

“We would like to (change the culture climate) around sexual assault, so people recognize it is a serious issue and that it is not funny to think about women being drunk and being susceptible to having sex when they are intoxicated,” said Patricia Ricketts, staff psychologist at the Counseling Center. “… When you see something that doesn’t seem right, when you see someone who is vulnerable because they are intoxicated … you don’t think of them as ‘Oh, this is an opportunity.’”

Julia can be reached at [email protected].