Students who are sexually assaulted and aren’t ready to speak to police right away have a new way to go through the process.
Seek Then Speak, a program at West Texas A&M University through the police department is working to make sure sexual assault victims aren’t afraid to seek help.
“Sometimes they are scared to call the police because they don’t know what to expect, they think they are going to be forced to make a police report and they aren’t but they don’t know that so this lets them go through that without having to do that if they aren’t quite to the point where they want to talk to a person and do that just yet,” said Sgt. Barbara Ferrara with the Unversity Police Department.
Sgt. Ferrara tells us making information accessible to victims will hopefully show them they have support.
“Ultimately they are not going to come forward if they don’t feel supported or if you have a bad reaction, or don’t know what is available and can’t help them then they are going to feel like there really is no reason for them to go through that process.”
Seek Then Speak can be accessed through the police department’s web site, an app or by phone.
Ferrara tells us it covers many questions and concerns an assault victim may have.
“It covers sexual assault exams, it covers advocacy, law enforcement, title 9, ours is title 9, for us it has all of the components.”
The information through the app will also help give some power back to the victims.
“You really truly can pick and choose so if they say I don’t want to answer that question, they don’t have to so it is empowering to them because they get choices, they aren’t forced to do anything, it is completely at their own pace,” added Ferrara.
The University Police Department hopes this program will help more victims come forward.
“Sexual assaults are very, very underreported, only about 5% of sexual assaults are reported to campus police and that is not very many,” said Ferrara.
Seek then speak isn’t just for victims, Sgt. Ferrara tells us if a professor or other student knows of an assault, they too can use the app to seek help for the victim.
There are several ways to access the information:
• visit http://www.wtamu.edu/university_police/start-by-believing.aspx;
• visit SeekthenSpeak.org;
• download the Seek Then Speak app on an Apple and Android device; or
• call 1-888-865-9863.