Panelists Encourage Sympathy During Discussion

Students got the chance to learn how to support and meet the needs of partners who have been survivors of sexual violence in a panel entitled “How to Date a Survivor” that was held last night at San Miguel Formal Lounge.

Sponsored by Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, also called PAVE, and the campus group Men Against Rape, the event featured Counseling and Psychological Services therapists Jessica Cooper, Ryan Stevenson and Kali Lantrip, as well as Director of Campus Advocacy Resources and Education, or CARE, Jill Dunlap. All of the panel members discussed sexual violence in the context of what they have learned from their experiences working with survivors on campus. In addition, Domestic Violence Solution Outreach Director for Santa Barbara County Catherine Steininger was on the panel, bringing a broader perspective about sexual violence in the greater Santa Barbara community to the discussion.

During the discussion, panelists relayed the importance of listening to and supporting a partner who is a survivor of sexual violence, along with encouraging them to seek sexual violence outreach services and other available resources in order to aid emotional healing. Panelists also said supporters should encourage their partner to report their case to law enforcement.

PAVE President Kathryn Veroski guided the panel through a Q&A with the audience, leading the discussion on how to respond to knowledge that one’s partner has been the survivor of sexual violence. A large focus of the conversation focused on what campus resources are available to victims of sexual violence.

According to CAPS therapist Lantrip, it is necessary to exercise sensitivity when talking about a survivor’s past, as the moment when a victim decides to come forward to their partner, they are in a peculiar state of being “very courageous and sensitive.”

In addition, CAPS therapist Stevenson said students should stay away from trying to be the solution and should instead accept that “they don’t need to fix things.”

Likewise, Lantrip said students should not feel stigmatized for seeking out help and support. She emphasized that even if that person is not the direct victim, it is still essential they receive help so that they themselves can offer strong support.

“It’s hard to be supportive without your own support,” Lantrip said.

Above everything, panelists urged students to take advantage of resources on campus for sexual violence survivors, and to not be dissuaded by the threat of being “found out” by peers.

“Parents will never know [if you] go to CAPS,” Dunlop said. “No one will ever know, except you and your therapist.”

The Counseling and Psychological Services is a free campus resource open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Building 599.


A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Thursday, January 9, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.