DCU offers classes on safe intervention of sexual assault

DCU is now offering classes on how to intervene when a situation may lead to sexual assault

A total of 45 students have enrolled in an 8 week Bystander Intervention program that Welfare Officer Cody Byrne says will teach participants how to safely intervene in situations which may escalate into sexual assault.

The program will be delivered by Dr. Mel Duffy, co-founder of DCU’s MA in Sexuality Studies, Doctorate in Sexuality Studies scholar Caroline Ryan and MA in Sexuality Studies student André Venchard.

The program is based on the Intervention Initiative which was devised by the University of West England, Bristol.

“Not only does it teach about consent, but it changes the social norms surrounding rape culture – it really emphasises that gender is a social construct… and this construct then facilitates in the rape, sexual and domestic assault against men and women,” Byrne said.

Byrne commended how the program highlights how both males and females are equally capable of engaging in sexual violence.

“It doesn’t depict men as evil beings that think with their penis first, which was important to me,” he said.

Ryan hopes that participants will feel empowered to create the open dialogue she feels is necessary for society to begin the healing process around sexual assault.  

“I feel here in Ireland we are sorely in need of spaces that provide an opportunity to discuss difficult topics such as sexual assault, consent, and societal attitudes to victims and perpetrators,” she said.

Last year the Class Rep Council mandated for the introduction of consent classes on campus. This initiative will act as a pilot program, with a view of presenting the findings to the Academic Council before introducing the program as a module that all students can attend.

Participants were asked to contribute a fee of €10 to cover the cost of the course, and those that attend all 8 classes will receive a diploma.

Stephen Keegan

Image Credit: Alarmy

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