Welcome back! I hope you all are all having a great start to the school year! So as you know I am Jessica and I am the SHARPP Outreach Assistant. Before I begin my post I just want to remind everyone of the services SHARPP provides for all of us (and faculty and staff). SHARPP has a 24hr Help Line: 603-862-7233 as well as office appointments and walk-ins. We also have an online “Ask an Advocate” service where you can ask our trained advocates a question and get an answer back via email. SHARPP provides many other services to the UNH community. Advocates assist in medical accompaniment and legal accompaniment. We also provide academic interventions to those students that maybe having difficulty keeping up with their course work. Always remember SHARPP is here and our staff and volunteers want to help you. Even if it’s just coming in and introducing yourself, we would love to meet you!
I feel very strongly about the issues of rape culture, sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking. But with these issues the thing that gets me the most worked up is how we don’t learn about it all earlier. I was exposed to these issues at an early age because I participated in a walk to raise awareness of domestic violence. If my family did not participate in this walk, the first time I would’ve heard of these issues would’ve been my freshmen year of college. SHARPP is really the only place I have ever been exposed to these issues. I’m also a Social Work and Women’s Studies double major so in my classes we have discussions about these topics.
I believe that education of these topics at a high school level would be very beneficial to society. It would raise awareness and help prevent sexual assault from occurring. I also believe that students younger than high school can have discussions on healthy relationships. Since I do have a passion for starting education of these topics at an earlier age, I decided to make a program and present it to some students at my former high school. Doing this was even a struggle at points. My former principal was nervous to expose these students to these topics. I understand it can be triggers to some of these students but I strongly feel we need to go over these issues and raise awareness. I think society is almost scared to bring the issue of this rape culture to students because they think it might be too much for them to handle at their age.
When I presented my program to two classes (one senior class, one sophomore class) the feedback I got was amazing. The ideas these students had about raising awareness of these issues blew me away. They had SO much to say, because they never had an opportunity to say these things before! They explained to me that all they learn in health class is not to bully (this is a HUGE issue as well that needs to be taught). They explained they have never been exposed to sexual assault and never got to talk about it before until my presentation. Although they never were taught about these issues they knew more than I thought, and had so many great ideas. They told me that they would be interested in starting a group at the school to discuss these things and raise awareness. After my program I gave all the students a note card to write down their feedback. And so many of them just thanked me. One girl even came up to me at the end and shook my hand and said “Thank you so much we don’t talk about this enough.” These students showed me that they can handle talking about these issues and more importantly they WANT to. Not all of these students were girls… the boys in these classes contributed SO much to the conversation. It just shows that these issues effect both men and women and need to be talked about among everyone.
My point in this post is, we need to speak up! We cannot silence these issues! So many people have so many things to say about our society and rape culture. I believe if we start educating at an earlier age it can make a difference in our society.