SAPEC door

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center created a support group for students who have suffered from gender-based violence.

Watkins Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Kansas have created a new gender-based support group for survivors of sexual assault. The group meets Thursday of every week from 1 to 2 p.m in Watkins Health Center, room 2155.

It is an open support group for students who have been impacted by any form of gender-based violence. Gender-based violence includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse, threats, coercion and economic or educational deprivation, according to

Merrill Evans, licensed specialist clinical social worker, is the campus assistance resource and education coordinator, whose primary role is to provide institutional support for students who have been impacted by any form of violence, according to the Watkins website. Evans worked with SAPEC to create the group for students.

“This support group was created by a need the CARE Coordinator was seeing  in order to provide a space for students to receive support and explore themes around their individual recovery process,” Evans said.

Common themes discussed in the group may include self-validation, body autonomy and resilience, Evans said.

According to the University of Kansas Annual Security Report, 13 cases of rape, including sodomy and sexual assault with an object, were reported in 2018. It increased by seven since 2016.

“[The support group] is specifically geared towards students who have experienced or been impacted by a form of violence,” Evans said.

Quincy Strawhecker, a sophomore at the University, said the support group would be a great way for students to open up about their experience in a safe space.

“Students need a place to talk to others that can relate to similar problems they might be experiencing. Sexual assault is not the only issue, but also toxic and abusive relationships,” Strawhecker said. 

Outside of the support group, Evans works as the CARE Coordinator at the University, specializing in sexual assault survivor services. Evans said her services are free and confidential to any students who are in need of help relating to any gender-based violence.

Edited by Madeleine Rheinheimer