Within the first work week of the New Year, the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center has played a role within different types of training sessions focusing on support for survivors of sexual assault and the prevention of sexual assault.

Survivor Support Network training continues

Claire Kaplan, Gender Violence and Social Change Director at the Women’s Center, facilitated a session of Survivor Support Network (SSN) Training, with the help of Women’s Center Counselor Cathy Erickson on Jan. 5. About 20 faculty and staff, from a range of units and departments at U.Va., attended.

In what was Erickson’s first SSN training session, she observed much genuine concern among the participants who she said all showed they had “the commitment to be a part of the solution, to be part of the healing process for survivors.”

Since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, the Women’s Center has trained more than 100 faculty and staff members in how to support survivors of sexual violence. During the Fall semester, in addition to our regular open training sessions, we conducted sessions for Student Health, Darden School of Business and the Law School, and all School of Engineering Deans. Upcoming trainings include sessions for U.Va. Library, Psychology Graduate Students, Curry School of Education faculty, and the Department of Media Studies. There is still room on the spring calendar for other programs and departments to schedule a SSN training.

Established by the Women’s Center in 2009, this 2-1/2 hour program covers effective strategies to support students and colleagues, as well as local resources and “ways to become part of an on-Grounds network that is designed to make visible the dedicated support for victims that exists at the University.”

“There are a wide variety of resources for students – whether they are survivors, whether they’re helping a survivor, whether they know survivors and they don’t understand what’s going on with that person and they just want to know more,” Erickson said. “There are resources for all of them to learn more and to become a part of the healing process at U.Va. SSN is just one of those resources.”

This semester, the Women’s Center is also offering two new therapy groups supporting survivors of sexual assault. One group is for female students, and another is for faculty and staff at U.Va.

Green Dot training begins

The first work week of the New Year continued with the launch of the new initiative on Grounds – Green Dot. More than 100 people attended the introduction of the program, which included the group that also stayed for training. Around 70 faculty and staff members attended training from Jan. 6-9, and around 60 students attended training Jan. 7 and 8.

The title of the program is based on the intent that every Red Dot (representing a choice by an individual in a moment of time to commit an act of power-based personal violence–somewhat the way the spread of a virus might be illustrated on a map) will eventually be replaced with a Green Dot (representing a choice made by an individual or group of individuals in a moment of time, to interrupt or prevent an act of power-based personal violence).

This training was run by professional members of the Green Dot staff who worked in consultation with U.Va. professionals to bring this program to Grounds in a format unique to

U.Va. Claire Kaplan, GVSC Director at the Women’s Center, was in attendance.

“We’ve been engaged in very interactive activities and conversations and it’s a highly lively group,” Kaplan said. “There’s been a lot of laughter in the room—laughter over shared experiences, our terrific trainers (Dorothy Edwards, Meghan Quigley and Lea Hegge) and the developing bonds among the participants.”

Kaplan plans to conduct an in-service with the rest of the Women’s Center staff to recap what she has learned through Green Dot. She will also continue working on one of several committees focused on implementing the program on Grounds.

There were about 100 people present for the Implementation Teams planning day on Jan. 9, which included mostly faculty and staff, as most students other commitments on that day. However, students still plan to help and had given committee preferences to the Nicole Thomas, program coordinator for prevention at U.Va.

Later this semester, the new prevention coordinator position at the Women’s Center, that recently received funding from the Office of the Provost, will be working with the Office of the Dean of Students on prevention initiatives, such as Green Dot and the Gender Violence Prevention Coalition.

Green Dot is built on the premise that “in order to measurably reduce power-based personal violence (sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking), a cultural shift is necessary. In order to create a cultural shift, a critical mass of people will need to engage in a new behavior that will make violence less sustainable in our community.”

“A vast majority of those present [at the Green Dot training session] have either directly experienced, indirectly experienced or witnessed some kind of power-based personal violence,” Kaplan said. “I’ve been through this training before, but seeing the bar graphs that pop up as workshop participants click a yes or no to their experiences of this violence, has been a real eye-opener for most of those present.”


Individual faculty and staff members can find scheduled Survivor Support Network training sessions to join on the Women’s Center website’s calendar. Departments, units or schools interested in scheduling a session for a larger group should call Claire Kaplan at (434) 982-2774 or email her at cnk2r@virginia.edu.

By Agnes Filipowski