7 issues WGAC focuses on to support survivors

The+Women+and+Gender+Advocacy+Center+is+located+in+the+Lory+Student+Center+on+campus+at+Colorado+State+University%2C+March+25%2C+2019.+

Collegian | Skyler Pradhan

The Women and Gender Advocacy Center is located in the Lory Student Center on campus at Colorado State University, March 25, 2019.

Lee Medley

Ivy Secrest, Arts and Culture Reporter

Women have historically experienced extreme horrors when it comes to their bodies and rights. Because issues like intimate partner abuse and other forms of gender-based violence continue, the Women and Gender Advocacy Center works to offer resources to people experiencing discrimination and abuse. 

WGAC at Colorado State University provides programs and resources focusing on all genders through social justice and interpersonal violence prevention, according to their website. Here are seven issues WGAC provides support with. 

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1. Sexual assault

Anyone can reach out to WGAC for guidance should they or someone they care for encounter sexual assault. According to WGAC’s website, “Sexual assault is any sexual contact without consent and may include touching of intimate body areas, intercourse or penetration.” Many people fear reaching out for help due to the shame that can be associated with sexual assault. Survivors are encouraged to seek medical treatment within seven days after the assault; however, other help can be found after that time period. Mental guidance is also available to deal with this traumatic experience. 

2. Relationship violence

Sexual, physical and mental violence can occur in relationships, and as young people enter the world of adult relationships, it can be difficult to recognize violent and abusive behavior. WGAC provides education on what abuse looks like and offers resources for victims and survivors. Being hit by a partner isn’t the only form of abuse, and taking the time to learn what abusive behaviors look like could protect you and your loved ones from harm’s way.  

3. Stalking

Being stalked can be a frightening and confusing situation that many people don’t imagine they’ll ever encounter. Obsession can easily grow into a dangerous situation, and WGAC provides information on legal actions, definitions and how to recognize and protect yourself from stalking. The Stalking Resource Center from the National Center for Victims of Crime also provides invaluable information on how to deal with this unfathomable situation, as does the CSU Police Department.

4. Coping and self-care

It is likely that everyone will encounter some level of hardship in their adult life. They may even be coping with childhood traumas. Allowing yourself to be supported and coping are vital to the healing process. WGAC provides advice on how to emotionally ground yourself and find safe places where you can process without fear of being judged or hurt further. Through a variety of programs, WGAC supports survivors and the people around them in healing from interpersonal violence and other traumas.

5. Education

For those looking for more preventative support, WGAC provides education on topics such as “What is Consent?” and “What is Title IX?” They address rape-supportive cultures and body image and allow community members to request programs suited to their community’s needs. Knowledge is the best tool people can have against these sorts of incidents, and pursuing knowledge is helpful in protecting yourself and loved ones. 

6. Involvement

Students passionate about gender-focused advocacy can become employed by WGAC and attend their events to further educate themselves and familiarize themselves with the supportive community available to them.  

7. Anti-violence strategies and campaigns

It can be earth-shattering to watch violence of any kind enter the lives of our loved ones or even just acquaintances. One of the best things that can be done to prevent this is to address harmful behavior as it is witnessed and before it escalates. Calling out harmful jokes that encourage sexual and physical violence is an example of this.

Addressing these behaviors in all communities and ensuring bystanders know how to intervene in potentially dangerous situations is not only essential to changing the culture around violence toward gender minorities but also is comforting information to have for those who are already familiar with how detrimental that violence can be.

Coming out of gender-motivated violence, sexual violence or abusive relationships can be damaging for survivors and those around them, who are often referred to as secondary survivors. Having access to a support system is essential. Should students need to speak with an advocate or utilize these resources, WGAC’s contact information and written resources can be found on their website’s homepage as well as their contact page. They can also be reached at their 24-hour hotline: 970-492-4242.

For additional information on WGAC, check out their Instagram @csu_wgac.

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Reach Ivy Secrest at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.