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Texas A&M campaign and student organization bring awareness to the still stigmatized topic of sexual assault and violence

The organizations offers emotional support and resources for those who have experienced sexual violence in the age of COVID-19

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — This April marks the 20th anniversary of the official observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Both students and faculty at Texas A&M work together year-round to provide resources and raise awareness to sexual violence on campus. One campaign on campus serves those who experience sexual violence and trauma in the community. 

 The Step In Stand Up Campaign has brought important awareness to the topic since 2015.

”[Step In Stand Up] teaches our Aggie community how to be reactive in the moment, to stop and act in power base for personal violence responsibly and safely, but also be proactive in the campus community all year” Denise Crisafe, TAMU Health Promotion Coordinator said. 

The stand-up aspect focuses on providing support for survivors. With the pandemic still ongoing, the campaign has shifted gears to provide resources to those who might be experiencing sexual violence at home.

“We do know the rate of sexual violence abuse and domestic violence have gone up at least 3-fold in most of our communities in terms of reports since 2020,” Crisafe said. “We may individuals experiencing sexual violence during the pandemic and weren’t able to reach out for resources or they experienced it beforehand or are already having compounding trauma and couldn’t get resources if they wanted to. At least not easily over the last year.”

The campaign this year is specifically focused on having trauma-informed conversations and elevating marginalized voices. 

“What that means is who has primality been left out of this conversation so when we have even national conversations about sexual violence prevention and who is being impacted,” Crisafe said. 

The campaign is also looking at how there may be more victims of sexual assault during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another resource available under the Office of Health Promotion is a student group called Aggie Elevate. This organization is made up of certified peer health educators to facilitate conversations with other students. 

“We wanted something curated for students by students,” Aggie Elevate member Aniyah Zaman said. “We thought that it was nice not to only give general info on sexual assault and consent, but we also provide student perspectives like what mental health looks like for us.”

The organization also recently created an online resource kit available to students to talk about sexual violence and mental health. 

The Office of Health Promotions wants to remind everyone in the community that their programming and campaigns don’t stop once April is over. They work on different projects year-round to discuss interpersonal violence and be a resource on campus to bring awareness to a still stigmatized topic.