The Sexual Assault Awareness and Facilitaive Education (SAAFE) Advocates are a group of volunteer activists that allow students to talk and share their experiences of assault.
It is a place for those on campus who have dealt with a moment of trauma in their lives whether it be a bad relationship or sexual assault and it gives them a safe place to be heard on what they went through.
“We’re a peer education group as well as an advocacy group. We talk about different topics such as healthy relationships, gender discrimination and other types of harrasment like sexual harrasment, rape, stalking and so forth,” said Anna DeWindt President of SAAFE Advocates.
SAAFE Advocates operates on two accounts. The campus SAAFE Office and the SAAFE Advocates work together to create events for others on campus to join.
The SAAFE Office operates through the counseling services at the university and is the main function of the office, whereas the SAFFE Advocates are the student run club that works to facilitate sexual harassment prevention.
The SAAFE Office, along with the Advocates, host usual events and activities to spread the word that they are a resource that can be made available to them. These events include CORE presentations and encouragement talks.
Another program they have is peer education training. This allows for people who want to be an advocate for the group to become better leaders and feel more comfortable talking to others. SAAFE Advocates also practice listening and facilitating groups.
An example of something that SAAFE Advocates do for the Valpo community is handing out emergency backpacks that contain basic essentials.
“The emergency backpacks are for the survivors who face harassment and must stay in a hospital for a couple days after the incident. So we gather the backpacks and it has different essentials in them, maybe a fresh pair of clothes, some soap, a journal and a notebook they can write in,” DeWindt said. “All different products that will help them through that time.”
Just recently this year the head of the SAAFE Office and coordinator for the SAAFE Advocates, Natalie Muskin-Press, partnered up with Pastor Jim Wetzstein and the Chapel of Resurrection to expand their outreach.
One thing that came of the collaboration between the SAAFE Office and the Chapel is an event called Healthy Relationships. Healthy Relationships was a series of talks for men, women and LGBTQ+ students to have a space to talk about being in relationships. Each group was held on a different night to ensure that the topic would be relevant for each group.
“I thought of the Chapel and how there's lots of students involved in Chapel life and about they may have needs about healthy relationships and sexual assault prevention,” Muskin-Press said.
SAAFE's newly found relationship with the Chapel proved to be a good way to reach out to more students who have the very issues they talk about and they plan on reaching out to more organizations.
“Really it was just my office trying make sure that I’m reaching students as many different ways as possible, and so since I just started in this position I knew that there were already established relationships with fraternities and sorority life and athletics and I wanted to start connecting [to students] in different ways,” Muskin-Press said.
If you are someone who has ever experienced sexual assault, violence or harrasment, the SAAFE Advocates are a great campus resource that is here to help you through.