Seek Then Speak implemented on WTAMU campus

Savannah Wesley, Features Editor

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Photo from Seek Then Speak website. If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of sexual assault, please call 911, contact UPD at 806-651-2300 or go to SeekThenSpeak.org for more information.

West Texas A&M University Police Department (UPD) is taking a new approach to reporting sexual assault crimes using the program offered by SeekThenSpeak.org.

“We want [victims and survivors of sexual assault] to know they’re supported and that we’re going to try to help them and then we’ll walk them through that process,” said Barbara Ferrera, the criminal investigation sergeant for the WTAMU Police Department.

Seek Then Speak’s website states the program provides victims and survivors of sexual assault answers to their questions and informs them of their options for reporting when they are ready. The multilingual platform allows victims and survivors to engage in a gradual and supportive dialogue and can be accessed through web, phone or mobile app. Through Seek Then Speak, victims and survivors can remain anonymous until they choose to make direct contact with the police department, Title IX or Victim Assistance.

“[People] usually feel more comfortable going anonymous about these kind of things than they do in person,” said Stefanie Wilt, freshman psychology major who is involved in multiple mental health awareness and sexual assault awareness organizations.

The University Police Department (UPD) realizes that victims and survivors of sexual assault might not want an officer to show up in person and take a report, or that victims and survivors may have other obstacles to reporting. Seek Then Speak was created to provide solutions to these obstacles and offer victims and survivors another options for gaining information and finding support.

“[Seek Then Speak] is to help [victims] make a better better informed decision about what they want to do if they want to do anything they can go through and answer whatever they do or don’t want to,” said Ferrara. “It gives them a little measure of control.”

Seek Then Speak cooperates with Victim Link, an agency platform which was co-developed by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) and Ten8Tech. Victim Link combines education and technology to improve the community response to sexual assault. The program, of which WTAMU has been a part since 2016, also partners with “Start by Believing”, the campaign that prepares family members and friends for how to appropriately respond to a sexual assault disclosure. These two programs work together to offer a two-part solution for responding to victims and sexual assault survivors.

“Survivors are often afraid that others won’t believe them, or that they will blame them for what happened, so it is important to simply listen and offer support and whatever types of assistance they want,” advice from Seek Then Speak’s website regarding how to help victims and survivors.

If a victim or survivor is unsure where to begin, just go to the website seekthenspeak.org and follow the prompts given. The website will then guide the victim through a list of questions that they can opt to answer or not. None of the answers will be given to any law enforcement unless the victim decides to do so at anytime. Law enforcement will not even be notified of the interview unless the victim decides to let them know. Seek Then Speak also offers web, app, text, or call options to better fit a variety of users and can provide information without going through the interview process.

Students who are victims or survivors of sexual assault are encouraged to use this platform if reporting is difficult or not an option for them. If someone is a friend or family member of a victim or survivor, Seek Then Speak also provides information and instructions on how to help that person. If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of sexual assault, please call 911, contact UPD at 806-651-2300 or go to SeekThenSpeak.org for more information.

 

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