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Peer Education

Male peer educators sought to help end sexual violence

By Lissa Maki/Staff Writer, University Chronicle

Men in the SCSU community have a unique opportunity to stand up to fight the epidemic of violence against women in our society.

According to the American Psychological Association, nearly one in three adult women experience a serious assault by an intimate partner during adulthood. The National Victim Center indicates that 78 women are raped each hour.

The sexual violence prevention program at the SCSU Women’s Center currently is working to recruit a team of male peer educators to work on these problems in the next academic year. Participants work to educate the campus community about violence against women. The goal of the program is to minimize sexual assaults and physical abuse perpetrated against women.

“We have been training peer educators since the Sexual Violence Prevention Program began in the early ’90s. The first training we did had 30 men and women participate. We now have gone to an all-male peer educator program because we have more of a need for male peer educators. We feel strongly that men need to speak out about violence against women and that male audience members are more likely to listen to another man and a peer,” said Lee LaDue, coordinator of Sexual Assault Services at the Women’s Center.

According to LaDue, last year was the first year that the program focused specifically on creating a male-only team.

“I believe that there are many benefits for the men that go through the training,” she said. “I think for some, it changes their view of the world and is a life changing process. Looking at these issues improves their relationships with men and their relationships with the women in their lives.

“It gives me hope for the future. It is also important because we can’t change societal problems without all of us making personal commitments and taking responsibility,” LaDue said.

Siva Kanagaratnam, a senior in Mass Communications at SCSU, participated in the peer educator program.

“I was very interested in helping and understanding how to help people who have gone through rape and abuse,” he said. Kanagaratnam also shared his thoughts on why men should be involved in the program.

“It’s important cause it really gives you an insight into what goes on in life,” he said. “It is mind-blowing what people are capable of doing to their loved ones. It is important to know how to help. I never knew what women go through when raped and abused — not that I do now either — but it gives you a little insight into how their life changes.

“It made me personally search myself on how to help people as opposed to just go kick the other guy’s ass. The focus is the victim not you. In this program they tell you what you should and should not do,” Kanagaratnam said.

For more information about the program or to volunteer, contact Lee LaDue at (320) 308-3995

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