Michigan State University will soon add four new employees to its Sexual Assault Program, thanks to grant funding from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Victim Services, Crime Victim Services Commission. The funds will cover the addition of two therapists and two victim advocates.
Expanding the available services for victims of sexual assault was one of the first recommendations made by the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup. Recognizing funding would be needed to carry out this recommendation, chairperson of the workgroup and psychology professor, Rebecca Campbell, contacted the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board for assistance.
“The need for additional counseling and support services in the Sexual Assault Program has never been greater,” Campbell said. “It is incredibly important MSU is able to provide survivors the support they need in a timely, efficient manner and grant funding helps make this possible.”
The number of clients served by the Sexual Assault Program has been steadily increasing from around 260 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 600 in FY2017. This trend is consistent with MSU’s efforts to raise awareness and foster a culture where individuals feel empowered and supported in reporting.
“Survivors of sexual assault need and deserve our support as they recover from their traumatic experiences” said Debi Cain, interim director of the MDHHS Division of Victim Services. “It’s important that these brave individuals know that there are people they can talk to about their experiences and feelings. We have always had a long and successful relationship with MSU’s sexual assault program and we are very pleased to provide more much-needed funding so the university can do even more to help victims of sexual assault.”
The additional grant funding increases the total Victims of Crime Act funding for the Sexual Assault Program to more than $490,000. To obtain the funding, MSU must provide a 20 percent match. MSU also fully funds several other positions in the Sexual Assault Program.
“The community is coming together to take swift action and solve a problem and the assistance from state government shows they have the right priorities,” MSU Interim President John Engler said. “We are making changes so MSU becomes a model for addressing sexual harassment and assault. You can’t do this if staff levels are not commensurate with need.”
Established by Engler shortly after being named interim president, the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup counsels the president on policies and programs related to relationship violence and sexual misconduct, ensuring that decisions moving forward are based on best practice evidence and in line with MSU's goal of creating and sustaining a safe and supportive campus for all.
The Sexual Assault Program provides free and confidential individual counseling and support groups to MSU students. The program also provides crisis intervention and advocacy services to individuals impacted by rape or sexual violence, including a 24-hour hotline, 24-hour medical advocacy and legal advocacy. These services are available to survivors of adult sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse and their non-offending significant others.
The Crime Victim Services Commission administers funding from the Crime Victims Fund established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984. The fund is a special mandatory spending account dedicated solely to helping victims of all types of crimes.
Additional contact: Bob Wheaton, MDHHS, (517) 241-2112, firstname.lastname@example.org