Campus Health Centers and Sexual Violence Prevention: New training and resources from Futures Without Violence
Having just graduated from a university with a college health center, I can clearly remember my conversations with the health center providers. I imagine that my experience is similar to what many other students on many other campuses experience. Mostly, our conversation around sexual violence prevention was limited, if any, no matter the type of appointment. My visits, like many other student’s visits, were not always focused around sexual health and violence prevention, but more commonly attempted to address how can I get over this head cold overnight because I have an 8 AM final tomorrow (hint: you can’t). But when clinical interactions, for all types of appointments and ailments, extend beyond diagnostic questions and into a conversation about consent, healthy relationships, and being an active bystander, college health centers have an opportunity to contribute to a campus culture free of violence and in support of survivors.
Futures Without Violence (FUTURES) recently published new resources on Sex, Relationships, and Respect on Campus. These resources include a conversation starting card on building a culture of consent, how students can take action to prevent violence, health impacts of sexual and dating violence, and resources for survivor support. The Sex, Relationships, and Respect on Campus Guide for addressing intimate partner and sexual violence in campus health settings helps health centers on- and off-campus understand sexual and intimate partner violence and plan for implementing prevention and response measures in a clinical setting. The guide also draws attention to how health centers can create a safe environment for patients of all identities, which can make disclosing victimization to a healthcare provider safer for students and patients. These tips include asking patients what name they would like to be called and their gender pronouns and notating this on their medical chart or record, using “they/them” or “partner” to avoid making assumptions about the patient’s partner(s), and having posters displayed in the health center be multicultural and multilingual.
Not every patient in a campus health center comes solely to seek information on violence prevention or survivor support, but every patient and student deserves to feel safe, know they are supported, and have access to sexual and dating violence prevention education. While it may seem to break up the diagnostic flow by talking with a student with a head cold about consent or asking if their partner respects their boundaries, the message we send by bringing sexual violence into every day patient conversations is clear: This health center supports survivors and strives for a violence-free community.
To download the free resources, including the card, guide, and training slides, head to https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/campus/. To register for the upcoming FUTURES and American College Health Association’s (ACHA) web conference on this topic, go to https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/campus-sexual-dating-violence-role-campus-health-centers/.