Sexual Assault Awareness Month, observed in April, was established to highlight sexual violence as a public health issue and educate communities on how to prevent it. Across the University of Michigan, there are numerous units dedicated to supporting individuals who have experienced sexual assault and educating the community on prevention strategies. One of those units is SAPAC: the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
In this episode of Michigan Minds, SAPAC associate director Anne Huhman outlines what SAPAC is and how they are committed to prevention education, offer confidential support, and provide resources, training, and programs for the campus community. She also highlights some of the upcoming events taking place throughout April, planned by students, to bring the community together while raising awareness. With five different student volunteer programs and more than 150 volunteers coordinating events, there is something for everyone.
Huhman expresses the importance of organizations like SAPAC and the resources they provide for students and the entire campus community.
“One of the things that I think is most important to share is that at SAPAC we’re coming from a place of really recognizing and honoring that support and healing looks different for everybody. So our goal is to always provide multiple options and pathways that people can take when they reach out for support. So one person might be comfortable talking with an advocate in person while another might feel more comfortable calling an anonymous support line. We’re trying to create multiple options for folks to receive support,” she says.
“Another thing that I think is really important for people to know is that our services are free for the University of Michigan community and they are confidential. So somebody can come to us and reach out for support and whatever they share with us will stay confidential.”
There are multiple ways to contact SAPAC including sending an email, calling the office, walking into their offices at the Michigan Union, and using the website to learn more.
“We want people to reach out to us and no matter what, we’re going to meet you where you are and help you figure out the next step. Sometimes people are reaching out because they are interested in receiving confidential support due to a traumatic experience they had. Sometimes people reach out because they’re interested in exploring a workshop or a training opportunity with their group. Sometimes people reach out because they’re just looking for help navigating sort of a complicated situation and they’re not sure what to do about that,” Huhman says. “Regardless of what people are reaching out to SAPAC for, I would say you can expect kindness, professionalism, prompt communication, confidentiality, support, and sensitivity to your situation.”
She emphasized how crucial it is for survivors to know they are not alone; that support is available and SAPAC will provide it unconditionally. There are many factors that impact how each individual experiences trauma including race, gender, class, family structure, and more. SAPAC can help navigate those situations and work with survivors to determine what will work best for them.
One of the takeaways Huhman hopes everyone has from the interview is that every single person has a role to play in prevention. Whether it’s engaging in healthy relationships yourself, positively reinforcing healthy behaviors, intervening in harmful situations to help someone, supporting survivors, or helping spread awareness of resources that are available: everyone can play a part in prevention.
Learn more about SAPAC and resources available at SAPAC.umich.edu.