| 03.24.2018

Sexual violence victims have a voice

Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse will hold free and confidential meetings on the University of Idaho campus starting next week. The meetings will be for women who feel they have been victims of sexual abuse or sexual violence, said Bekah MillerMacPhee, volunteer and intern coordinator for Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse.

The confidential meetings on campus will begin next week, and are for any woman who feels they are a victim or are unsure if they were a part of some form of sexual violence. The meetings will focus on practical ways to cope with sexual violence, and start the healing process,
MillerMacPhee said.

“We are not a therapy group,” MillerMacPhee said. “We are a psycho-educational group. It’s really just going to be me, the facilitator, discussing common reactions women have when they have been sexually violated.”

Every person who wants to attend the group will be kept anonymous and everyone who participates must be screened by ATVP before being given information on meeting times and places.

“It’s a safe and supportive environment for victims to talk to people,” MillerMacPhee said.

The group will be flexible with its members, the meetings are free and the screening process is fairly simple,
MillerMacPhee said.

MillerMacPhee said there are also support groups for men and victims of other types of violence. Anyone who feels they have been violated or abused can call the ATVP 24-hour anonymous hotline.

Whether or not someone knows they are a victim, ATVP can provide counseling services, MillerMacPhee said.

ATVP also provides clothes, food and household supplies for victims of sexual violence.

MillerMacPhee said sexual violence is a problem on the Palouse that is usually swept under the rug. Sexually abused victims are not just victims of rape but can be anyone who was forced into a sexual experience that they were uncomfortable with, she said.

MillerMacPhee said the majority of victims — about 84 percent — who come from these situations admit that the person who violated them was someone they knew. Whether it was an acquaintance, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, anyone is capable of causing sexual violence in a relationship.

ATVP is in partnership with the What’s Your Green Dot? prevention program at UI. What’s Your Green Dot? covers many types of violent situations such as bullying, dating and domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking.

Together, the two advocacy groups are holding educational, interactive overview sessions in middle schools, high schools and community centers
on the Palouse.

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