By Sarah Slevin
A Galway-based campaign has been launched to equip college students and staff with the tools they need to respond to disclosures of rape, sexual violence, and harassment.
The collaborators on the national online campaign ‘Start Here’ have geared the training towards college students and staff but have acknowledged the need for wider society to be involved.
NUI Galway’s Active* Consent, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Galway Rape Crisis Centre (GRCC) have teamed up on the eight-week campaign which is supported by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris.
The campaign was partly motivated by a national Sexual Experiences survey created by Active* Consent and the USI last year.
It found that of the 6,000+ college students surveyed who had experienced sexual misconduct, 35 percent of female students, 49 percent of male students, and 25 percent of non-binary students had not disclosed this to another person.
Of the students who did disclose an incident of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment, 79 percent of them confided in a close friend. The survey also found that very few students turned to college staff.
“Far fewer students had disclosed to staff members in college – demonstrating the importance of raising awareness that this is an option for students.”
Lead on the campaign and co-lead of Active* Consent, Dr Charlotte McIvor, said it is important that the campaign reaches further than the college campus.
“It’s a college campaign but it’s one I think that could speak to all of Irish society and other societies as well,” McIvor said.
GRCC has been running for almost 40 years and will take the lead in training students and staff.
Michelle Caulfield, Head of Education and Training at GRCC, represented the centre at the launch and said that it is crucial the training is done well.
“We do know the importance of disclosure and how best to deal with that. We are delighted to take part in a huge step towards decreasing the tolerance that we have for sexual violence in society and in our culture,” Caulfield said.
The campaign has started posting videos on social media that highlight the “basic do’s and don’ts of receiving a disclosure”.
Other resources they have committed to providing include open access to Active* Consent’s self-guided 45-minute eLearning module on consent, sexual violence and harassment and access to an online student-tailored disclosure training by Galway Rape Crisis Centre.
For information on intimate online abuse please click here