“Project HEAL” Aims to Combat Sexual Assault

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SPRINGFIELD — The initiative, starting in Spring 19′, will be providing an additional resource to victims. 

A grant received by Missouri State University about a year ago is helping combat sexual assault. 

They’ll be doing it through what they are calling “Project HEAL”. 

It will be giving people an outlet to get help if they have been sexually assaulted, and providing ways to prevent it through training and awareness. 

“It’s pretty clear that most people know somebody, or know somebody personally or are somebody who has been affected by interpersonal sexual violence at some point in their lives.” 

The stress, anxiety, and trauma that can come after a sexual assault can take a toll on a person. There are several questions that can run through a victims mind such as “What’s the first step?” or “Who do I tell?” 

Through Project HEAL, its Coordinator Kunti Bentley is hoping to provide those answers for victims of sexual assault. Money from the grant has helped hire a team trained in helping victims who will be offering support for victims regardless of circumstance.

“No matter when that incident happened whether it happened to them before campus – before they came here, or while they were here as a student. That service is provided to all student’s on MSU campus for free no matter how long they want to be taking advantage of that service,” says Bentley.  

The project is not just geared towards MSU, it is a collaboration with a familiar educational partner. 

“We’re also funding a full time victim advocate on Ozarks Technical Community college,” says Bentley.  

The project, which will help provide preventative training sessions, workshops, conversations, and programming will be implemented over three years starting in the Spring semester. It’s aimed towards helping victims figure out the next step, whether it’s through a Title IX complaint or counseling, and they are hoping students get involved to help change the culture. 

“We’re working really hard to make sure students feel invested and involved. We want to give them agency over this issue. That is going to make them feel empowered, and that in turn is going to help us to create more sustainable programming,” says Bentley.  

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, over 90% of sexual assault victims on campuses don’t report the assault.

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