Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center

Volunteer Training Profile Picture

By Anne Huhman, Associate Director, SAPAC

SAPAC held its annual Volunteer Training Program from January 26th – February 7th this year which included a mixture of presentations, film screenings, and small-group discussions. We are thrilled to welcome 68 new students to our three volunteer programs.

SAPAC’s collaboration with Dr. Michelle Munro, Research Fellow in the School of Nursing and former SAPAC Peer Educator, continued this year. For the second year, Dr. Munro is teaching a for-credit class through the Health Sciences and Women’s Studies Departments called Gender-Based Violence: From Theory to Action. As part of the experiential learning hour requirements for the class, students are required to attend either SAPAC or SafeHouse Center’s Volunteer Training Programs. A sizeable portion of our new volunteers came to us through this class!

New volunteers participated in a core curriculum that included introductory information around sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and how to effectively respond to and support someone who has experienced these kinds of traumas. In addition, new volunteers learned about the University of Michigan’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The “Foundations of Social Justice and Social Identity” workshop provided an opportunity for students to reflect upon their social identities and discuss how they impact experiences and perspectives.

Another workshop designed for new volunteers focused on the sometimes overwhelming nature of this work and the importance of taking care of ourselves. Participants discussed different self-care techniques and goals for both physical and emotional self-care.

“Primary Prevention: Envisioning a World Without Violence” provided a framework for prevention and explained what it means to stop violence before it ever starts. Finally, new volunteers participated in a session on bystander intervention which focused on some of the reasons why it is difficult to intervene in situations that are harmful, hurtful, or disrespectful and provided participants with an opportunity to practice strategies for intervening safely and respectfully.

Returning volunteers completed a separate curriculum that was focused on continuing their educational and professional development. One of these workshops consisted of a panel of SAPAC alumni who shared information about what their experiences were like as a former SAPAC volunteer, and the many ways they have used the skills they developed from SAPAC in their current professions. Another workshop focused on the intersection of identities as it relates to sexual violence. Presenters shared a film called “No Le Digas A Nadie” (Don’t Tell Anyone), which tells the story of Angy Rivera and her parallel journey of being undocumented in the United States and a survivor of sexual violence. Finally, the last workshop focused on understanding gender and supporting trans survivors.

Volunteer training concluded with an exercise in which students were asked to express what they felt empowered to do after having participated in the program. Some of the comments included:

  • Be empathetic
  • To ensure time for self-care
  • Stand up for other identities
  • Teach others that consent is absolutely necessary
  • Teach others about the importance of bystander intervention
  • Empower survivors and raise awareness
  • Support the survivors in my life
  • Share my story
  • Educate and create change
  • Have a meaningful impact on the Michigan community
  • Be authentically empathetic and supportive to people of all identities
  • Challenge societal norms
  • Challenge myself more
  • Have a voice
  • Change the world!

On behalf of the entire SAPAC staff, we’d like to congratulate all students on completing volunteer training. We are proud of you and look forward to seeing all of the amazing work you do in the months and years to come. Also, thank you to the SAPAC staff and all of the presenters who helped make volunteer training such a success this year! We look forward to welcoming new volunteers again in the winter of 2017!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit the SAPAC website and fill out an application: http://sapac.umich.edu/application

Thank you!