The Center for Advocacy, Response and Education is utilizing Zoom and social media to stay connected with students for Sexual Assault Awareness Month during April.
CARE is a resource on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for students, faculty and staff seeking support for sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, stalking, harassment and other crimes, according to the CARE website.
Victim advocate Melissa Wilkerson said CARE originally had in-person programming planned for April, but since the coronavirus closed campus, the center had to move its events online. Conversations with CARE, discussions on sexual assault via Zoom, were held every Thursday throughout April starting April 9, according to the event page. CARE is also encouraging the UNL community to wear jeans on Wednesday and post pictures for Denim Day, an event made to brings awareness to sexual assault, according to Nebraska Today.
“I think having people know that we are still available to talk, we are still available to assist,” she said. “I think it’s really important, not just for students but for us as well, to be able to stay connected.”
During this time of isolation, Wilkerson said victims might revisit trauma or crises they’ve experienced, which is why it is important for CARE to stay connected with anyone in the UNL community who needs help.
The weekly Zoom meetings have featured different topics, such as the history of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, stereotypes and misconceptions of sexual violence and a Netflix watch party of the sexual harrassment episode of “The Office,” according to victim advocate Lanie Stutz. The latest meeting was meant to be light-hearted, Stutz said, featuring a trivia game about pop culture.
Along with programming, Stutz said CARE is utilizing social media like Instagram and Facebook to stay connected with students. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center does an Instagram challenge that CARE adapted to keep people involved, according to Stutz.
Even though students can’t meet with CARE advocates in person, students can still reach out by calling CARE at (402) 472-3553 or scheduling a Zoom meeting, according to Wilkerson. Even though the advocates are working from home, she said confidentiality is still one of their top priorities, and CARE won’t report anything unless the student, faculty or staff wants to.
CARE will still be available for one-on-one meetings throughout the summer, according to Wilkerson, but she said programming will depend on when the CARE staff can return to campus.
The final Conversations with CARE will be a vision board workshop on Thursday at 3 p.m. via Zoom. Students can access the link on the event page.
Stutz said that many people who have experienced trauma now have the free time to reach out, which makes it important for CARE to remain connected.
“We are still here to help and navigate those situations,” she said. “Know that it might not be in person due to the nature of our world right now, however, we do everything we can.”