Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Advocacy group offers support for sexual assault victims

A new resource offers emotional support and referral information for victims of sexual assault in the University of Denver community. 

Trained advocates help survivors, families and friends cope with the physical and psychological aftermath of a sexual assault through the Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate (SASA) Network, which was launched Jan. 2.

Lisa Ingarfield, coordinator of sexual assault response and prevention at DU, helped initiate the network, which is modeled after a Colorado State University program. Comparable programs have been introduced on campuses around the country, and Ingarfield believes DU was in need of such a network.

“The DU Health and Counseling Center offers a more generic spread of services,” says Ingarfield. “SASA is targeted specifically at survivors of sexual assault, and we’re not a counseling team, we’re more of a resource referral and advocacy group.” 

The SASA Network is available to students who have been sexual assaulted on- or off campus, and to visitors, faculty and staff who have been sexually assaulted on campus. In 2006, six on campus sexual assaults were reported to Campus Safety and Denver Police, according to Capt. Steven Fay of Campus Safety. Ingarfield estimates only one in 16 assaults are reported.

Volunteer advocates are trained to listen to sexual assault survivors confidentially and to assist them in obtaining resources. Advocates are students, staff and faculty who undergo extensive training in the psychological consequences of sexual assault. 

The SASA Network is available 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. weekdays. Ingarfield hopes to expand the availability to 24-7 within the year.

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