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Bergen Hosts an Affirmative Consent Workshop to Raise Awareness

by: Avery Blanchard

CW: Mentions of sexual abuse, content may be triggering for certain viewers 

In an effort to raise awareness of how to identify and combat sexual abuse, The Violence Intervention Prevention Center and healingSPACE of the YWCA of Bergen County held an affirmative consent workshop. 

The workshop discussed how to identify sexual abuse along with how important consent is, and what consent looks like in different situations. The workshop began with a trigger warning of sensitive content, along with a description of what sexual violence is. 

Sexual Violence can be: 

– Rape 

– Attempted rape 

– Abusive sexual contact 

– Non-contact sexual abuse 

The next part of the workshop was a video presented showing how anyone can be a victim of sexual violence. 

The workshop then started break out rooms, where attendees would participate in myth or fact: a series of questions were asked, and attendees had to determine if the statement was true or false. During these breakout sessions, participants learned facts such as there is no legal definition of consent, and only 5% of sexual assaults on college campuses are reported. 

The final part of the workshop, V.I.P. educates on what consent looks like, and how it is enforced can differ throughout situations. Consent is built on a foundation of listening and respecting others boundaries. The V.I.P also educates on how to respond to someone who is a survivor of sexual abuse in three key steps: Believe them, avoid judgement and allow them to make their own decisions. Some appropriate terms to use may include, “I believe you,” “It’s not your fault,” “You’re not alone.” 

The Violence Intervention Prevent Center at Bergen is a resource for peer support. Located in  the Pitkin Building, the V.I.P. accepts all visitors, and respects anonymity when it comes to personal information. There is accessibility of outside resources and support for anyone who is dealing with mental health issues, or is a victim of sexual violence.

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