Keene State College and surrounding towns offer several resources to help fight against sexual violence and teach those in the community about the topic.
The Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention is a facility in Keene that has a two-part mission that both helps victims of sexual violence and teaches the public about sexual violence and bring awareness to the issue. Assistant Director Shanna Beckwith said, “We have a 24 hour phone call service, walk-ins and we go to court. Also, we try to prevent violencw from happening in the community from Kindergarten to college. We teach people all the terms to help to prevent those from being victimised later.” Beckwith said that sometimes victims will rationalize sexual violence and believe that they themself is the one who did something wrong.
Coordinator of Sexual Violence at KSC Forrest Seymour said that in sexual situations, if something feels wrong or makes a person uncomfortable, then the person should trust the feeling in their head.
Seymour said that verbal communication is important during sexual situations. “The principle that we sort of go on is if we’re talking about physically intimate relationships is that we need to get an affirmative yes, a verbal yes. Did he or she say yes and sometimes we can misunderstand how people’s bodies seem to be communicating with us… Having those verbal conversations could be awkward and they’re not necessarily the way we see physical intimacy on TV and in the movies. The image we have of how physical intimacy happens is that it is sort of spontaneous and there are no words and they are just passionate and into it. In the real world, not in Hollywood, we need to talk about these things.”
Title XI Coordinator Jeff Maher said that there are resources and events available at KSC throughout the year. One resource Maher said is available is an online form that allows KSC students to anonymously or non-anonymously report an incident of sexual violence or assault.
The form can be filled out any time of the day from a phone or computer and the report will be sent to Maher’s office. Maher said that the form can be found on the KSC homepage by typing ‘report’ into the search bar and clicking on the link which will bring up the form. An app called NewSafeUS is another resource
Maher said is helpful for reporting incidents that happen. Maher said that people can report something they see happen even if they weren’t the one in the situation itself. Maher said, “Basically what we’re trying to do with bystander intervention is set up a community where people look out for each other and care for one another. Bystander intervention is one of the best tools to help to prevent sexual assault.”
Seymour said that there are various ways that someone can be an active bystander.
“Any student can help out in a lot of different ways around sexual violence prevention just by being an active bystander and a good neighbor and friend…It is important to remember that the action doesn’t have to be jumping in the middle of some situation. It can be getting someone else to help. It can be distracting people. There’s a lot of different ways where someonecan be active,” Seymour said.
Seymour said that there are many other ways KSC teaches students about the value of consent.
“We do educational activities with first year students in particular. During welcome days we have No Zebras, No excuses and other things about setting expectations around treating each other well and looking out for each other. Throughout students time at this college we have a lot of different departments and student group who are involved in various different educational and activism kinds of activities that are about helping people understand what consent looks like and what healthy relationships look like. We have the walk-a-mile event in April, shout out against sexual assault, in the fall there is the Take Back the Night march. We try to do a lot of very public events throughout the year that remind people about recognizing when people are engaging in misconduct and helping them understand what they can do to help the process,” Seymour said.
Beckwith said that the people who come in for help have no fit description and domestic violence is something that could affect any type of person.
“Domestic violence knows no bounds. It can happen to men, women, children, straight, LGBT, black, white, rich or poor.”
“If we have learned anything from the Me Too movement, it is that this behavior isn’t exclusive to college,” Maher said.
Colby Dudal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org