U of Windsor staff learn how to respond to sexual violence

A three-hour workshop held Thursday aims to help people on campus recognize cases of sexual violence and assault in a bid to create better outcomes for victims.

Staff members are often the first to be approached by assault survivors

Beth Oakley, director of student success centre at the University of Windsor, says a new course about sexual assault has helped her in her role with students. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Staff members at the University of Windsor are training this week on how to properly respond to reports of sexual assault.

A three-hour workshop held Thursday aims to help people on campus recognize cases of sexual violence and assault in a bid to create better outcomes for victims.

An important component to the course will be reminding staff that people respond to sexual violence differently, explained Caiti Casey, the project coordinator. 

"We want them to broaden their spectrum of what sexual violence can be," she said. "We just want to break some really dangerous prevalent myths." 

Caiti Casey is leading a new workshop at the University of Windsor that aims to help staff recognize cases of sexual assault. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The course has helped Beth Oakley, director of student success centre, who regularly works with students. She recently took the course can already see where she can apply what she's learned. 

"I definitely see where I have in the past communicated with students in this situation and now I feel a little more confident in how I could do that more effectively," she said. 

Staff also have to create a classroom environment that encourages people to come forward, said Casey, who has frontline experience working in sexual assault crisis centres in St. Thomas, London and Sarnia. 

Survivors need to feel comfortable, so they can be more willing to talk.

"We want to give the power of the survivor to share their experience, only when they want to," Casey said. 

Oakley said all staff will benefit from the course. Because students naturally form relationships with their professors, there is always a chance they will trust them enough to come forward.

"It's when you least expect it, it's a result of a relationship you form with students," she said. "You never know when someone's going to come forward with this information."