University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

UW-Eau Claire’s Center for Awareness
Of Sexual Assault Offers 24-Hour Crisis Line

 MAILED:  Nov. 21, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students who are dealing with sexual assault issues can now get help at any time thanks to a new crisis hotline that will be staffed 24 hours a day beginning Monday, Nov. 24.

Students dealing with sexual assault issues are encouraged to call the hotline at (715) 836-HELP for support and information, said Erica Eul, the university’s newly created Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault’s (CASA) victim services coordinator.

“We have a team of 24 trained student volunteers who will staff the hotline,” Eul said, noting that she also will take calls when she’s available. “In addition to the victims, we’re also here to talk with the victim’s friends, parents and other loved ones who have questions or concerns.”

The hotline will give students a place to call for help without requiring them to talk to law enforcement, said Susan Turell, Women’s Studies coordinator and associate professor of psychology.

“The reality is that students are at a greater risk of being raped by someone they know,” Turell said. “In those circumstances, they’re not as likely to report it. So they need resources and people to talk to that are not necessarily attached to law enforcement. CASA will work with law enforcement. But we want all people to have the services they need even if they choose to not report it.”

The crisis intervention volunteers will help educate victims/survivors of sexual assaults as they decide whether to report the assault, Turell said. For example, the volunteers might help a student decide to be examined by a sexual assault nurse examiner so evidence can be collected in case the student decides to contact authorities several days after the assault, she said.

“Our goal is to get students good information immediately so they can make their own decisions,” Turell said.

In addition to talking with students on the hotline, volunteers will offer to meet the victim at the hospital to offer additional support and information, Eul said.

Students from across the campus and from a variety of majors volunteered to participate in the peer support program to staff the hotline, Eul said. The student volunteers completed an extensive training program to ensure they are prepared to offer appropriate support and information to those who call, she said, adding that the volunteers can earn service-learning hours for their participation.

“The response from the student volunteers made it clear that sexual assault issues are a concern for students on campus,” Eul said. “It’s something students are thinking and talking about.”

In addition to the hotline, Eul also will offer individual counseling to those dealing with sexual assault issues. And she’ll lead a support group from 5-6 p.m. on Thursdays in the Women’s Studies department in Brewer Hall.

UW-Eau Claire created the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault earlier this fall in an effort to better coordinate efforts aimed at sexual assault prevention and to provide services to students who are sexual assault survivors. CASA brings together the efforts of numerous campus and community programs, making it easier for students to know where to go for help and support, Eul said.

The Family Support Center in Chippewa Falls, an agency that provides sexual assault and domestic abuse services, received funds from the Victims of Crime Act to hire a sexual assault services coordinator for UW-Eau Claire’s CASA. As a result, Eul works for the agency but has an office on campus.

Eul, a 2001 UW-Eau Claire social work graduate, previously worked for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin and Lutheran Social Services.

For more information, contact Eul at (715) 836-4357.

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JB


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
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Updated: November 24, 2003