Campus for Consent to host lecture on domestic violence

By Annie Giffels | 2/15/18 12:07am

GVL / Emily Frye Theresa Rolland, Captain Brandon DeHaan, and Detective Sara Fillman on Tuesday February 6, 2018.

Grand Valley State University’s Campus for Consent is bringing Sarah Omicioli, a prevention and education specialist from Safe Haven Ministries in Grand Rapids, to campus to discuss domestic violence, consent, bystander intervention and stalking. Omicioli will give her presentation Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center, Room 2204. 

Safe Haven Ministries is committed to helping women and children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse. The service offers resources such as a 24/7 hotline, emergency shelters and support groups. 

As a member of the prevention education team at Safe Haven Ministries, Omicioli works mainly in primary prevention and preventative care. Her duties also include putting on educational presentations in an array of different places, with schools and businesses being high on the list. 

“Our curriculum goes as early as the middle school level,” she said. "We’re trying to teach children what a healthy relationship looks like.”

At GVSU, however, the presentation will be focused mainly on consent and domestic violence. Hosted by the Campus for Consent student organization, the event is expected to last an hour with the chance for attendees to ask questions and interact with Omicioli after her lecture. 

“In a nutshell, Safe Haven Ministries will be training the crowd on things like sexual and dating violence,” said Madison Brooks, Campus for Consent financial officer. As the financial officer, Brooks was in charge of figuring out the budget and locking in funds for this event. 

Campus for Consent, formerly known as Eyes Wide Open and started in 2001, is a peer-education organization at GVSU whose mission is to rid college campuses of sexual assault. On campus, this group of sexual assault and consent peer educators put on educational presentations, host yearly events like Take Back the Night and Rock Against Rape, and offer multiple resources for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

“We’ve always been about peer education,” Brooks said. “That involves presenting to classes in departments like liberal studies and gender studies. ... We inform the campus on what consent is and what active bystanders are. We’re all students."

Safe Haven Ministries shares similar goals about consent and advocates for campuses free of sexual assault as well. 

“For me, it’s interesting how teaching consent is still so necessary for young adults," Omicioli said. “'No means no’ is something we learned in kindergarten, but it’s still something that people struggle with.”

Along with consent, Omicioli feels strongly about bystander intervention and wants to give her listeners the tools they need to be able to intervene in certain situations. 

“We strive to teach people how to recognize and respond to abuse,” she added. Omicioli also works alongside schools and businesses to create policies on sexual abuse, and she leads presentations on different topics regarding these issues. 

“Consent is an especially important topic for teenagers and college students,” she said. "Whether you’re at a party or in a serious relationship, women must be able to recognize sexual assault and know what to do if they witness it or are victims to it.”

Though this is not the first time GVSU has worked with Safe Haven Ministries, Omicioli is looking forward to putting on her presentation. 

“You’re never too old to learn about consent and sexual assault," she said. "Education on these issues never stops."

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