Twenty years ago, Central Michigan University Professor Steve Thompson decided that the sexual assault support programs that were currently being offered at the University were falling extremely short. It was well known by many that for the number of sexual assault victims who had come forward for support, a large amount more were afraid to. Thompson wanted to break through this fear, and create an environment where students could come forward and talk to someone who they could trust, and in a large part, relate to.
As mentioned in our previous blog, Sexual Assault: A Voice for Victims Part 1 Steve Thompson became an active advocate and creator of Sexual Assault Prevention, and Sexual Assault Survivor Support Programs (SAPA) while still a professor at Central Michigan University. Steve has been known to say “survivors (of sexual assault) don’t think people give a darn and we’ve got to change that perception".
In order to change that perception, his newly instated Survivor Support Program consisted of volunteer students who fielded calls from sexual assault victims. This peer to peer approach was new and unexplored territory, but it seemed to yield results. Each volunteer was specially trained to answer calls, offer support to the victim, and recommend special resources for their specific needs. The volunteers would even meet a victim face to face for further support. Here's a scary statistic:As per the National Criminal Justice Reference System.
"One in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college"
The current Director of Sexual Aggression Services at Central Michigan University, Brooke Oliver-Hempenstall, agrees that sexual assault is "a national global issue". She drives home the point that any victim will begin to feel safety and security in numbers, and so it is the program's goal to make as many victims as possible feel that they can call, visit, or come forward in whatever way suits them. Once they step forward, they will not be met with indifference, but with a large community of peers who understand, and are willing to help them on their own terms.
With the mission to spread this message of understanding to victims, Steve Thompson has put everything into the growth of this community. From the implementation of SAPA came the organization No Zebras, No Excuses, which has expanded from prevention and bystander awareness programs for Universities and Campuses, to the Military, Communities, and Law Enforcement. No Zebras continues to expand programs and organizations as far and wide as possible in the hopes that sexual assault will be prevented, and that victims will always have support.
You are not alone. Contact us today to find out more about our stance on sexual assault and aggression, how we can help your campus or organization raise awareness, and change the way students and the public react, protect themselves and each other, and behave, with our cutting edge prevention programs.