Mandatory Training

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I just started a new job, which I love, but Human Resources/Campus Safety are constantly requiring us to do these mandatory training exercises. The most recent one was an online training for “Preventing Sexual Violence Together”. I immediately tensed up when I saw the email, worried that I would be triggered by the training. It followed the “see something, say something” trend and honestly, I don’t think that most of us see sexual violence cues and I really don’t know if there is anything that we, as observers can do to help prevent the crimes from happening. We can definitely respond appropriately once a crime has taken place, but prevention is another thing entirely. Maybe I am just cynical. What are your thoughts?

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  1. Hannah

    Congrats on the job!
    If you’re feeling tense, you could possibly see if you could overlook the material before you go into training? That might help you prepare.
    I don’t necessarily think you’re being cynical. Sometimes these trends are a more “easy said than done” type of thing. Sometimes the signs are very clear, but sometimes we have to be a little more direct in how we observe. I think if there’s a known presence of people who are vigilant about these situations, then it helps in a way with prevention.

  2. sickpiecexo

    First, congrats on the new job! that is wonderful. second, you are not cynical. it makes sense that you tensed up and it is possible that you would be triggered by the training. just try and be as open as possible with your feelings and maybe that will help? take your time.i have all the faith in the world in you that you can do this. and we are all here to support you!

  3. MinZRivers Volunteer

    Browning 19, Congratulations on your new job! You are absolutely right in saying, sexual violence cues aren’t always easy to see. But in some cases they are very obvious. In those cases, you can acknowledge that person and make a note of them. In some cases, if an attacker knows there is someone out there watching, they’re less likely to act. Or at least, not as often. I don’t believe your job is saying you have to identify and point out a rapist. They are only trying to take safety measures and that’s a good thing.

  4. Jacqui

    Hi there!
    I’m glad that you love your new job. It is good that they are taking steps to educate. It will hopefully allow for a more open dialogue. While it definitely isn’t a fix, I think it is better than nothing. I understand your worry about being triggered. Is there someone you could go to at HR and say “hey, I might need to take a break during this, so if I walk out, is that okay?” or something like that.

  5. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi browning19,
    Congratulations on starting your new job!
    I don’t think you’re being cynical. I agree that it is difficult to see cues and prevent violence – especially because every situation and every person is different. As Alyssa said, I would follow my intuition. If people around me say the person is bad news (and that aligns with my gut feeling), then I stay away. I also agree with you when you say we can respond appropriately once an assault has happened.
    Maybe you could give your boss some suggestions. For example, maybe someone could put a list of topics the training covers before people work on it. Another idea could be to put trigger warnings before sensitive topics and include the option to skip these topics.
    Thank you for asking this very important question.

  6. kelly Day Captain

    Hey, browning19. Good topic. I think sexual abuse isn’t always that obvious or aggressively violent and can be hard to recognize. There usually aren’t many public cues that other people can see, and there’s a lot of secrecy and shame surrounding it. If you’re talking about a college campus, though, I think it is important to teach younger people when to say something. Like if someone is trying to pressure your friend to drink more or trying to get someone to leave with them when they are visibly intoxicated. Things that might not be so obvious to a younger crowd that is away from home for the first time. But you’re right, ultimately if a criminal wants to commit a crime, they will. There’s not much a person can do to intervene without possibly putting themselves in danger too.

  7. Ashley Day Captain


    Congratulations on starting a new job!

    It’s not abnormal that your body began to feel tense when you read the topic of the online training. I don’t think you’re being cynical. Rather, it sounds like you’re being practical. When you say that we can respond appropriately, I agree. I’m thinking it would be best for the training to teach people how to support people who experience sexual violence.

  8. alexcostello Volunteer

    Hi there Browning19,
    I think you raise a really interesting point here! I know it might be a little bit different but I have felt similarly at my college when they run similar prevention workshops with the students and it can begin to feel like it isn’t being effective when you hear stories about how people treat one another in practice despite all of these workshops. Often I have felt like it isn’t enough in preventing these kinds of acts. Having said that though, I think what they might be looking to target is demonstrating and exemplifying many of the warning signs. What they don’t account for I think is when sexual violence occurs between loved ones or trusted individuals. I found in my situation it was difficult to understand what had happened or to acknowledge these cues because you don’t often think someone you love or trust could possibly hurt you. I do think these courses however opened my eyes a lot more to what does happen and what can happen in certain situations. Prevention involves developing this awareness and being able to apply it in situations that we are in in every day life I suppose.

    I am so sorry to hear that they may have been triggering for you also and I think that’s such an important point because often they can be quite blunt and quite assertive in their language and the scenarios that they portray. Would you want to maybe speak to your boss about ways that you think these courses might be improved or the ways in which they can be less triggering?

  9. CarmenR Volunteer

    Hi browning19,

    Congratulations on you new job! We are so excited for you!

    I agree that it would be beneficial for you to talk with your boss, especially if you are worried about the potential of this training to be triggering for you. You are not cynical for your thoughts. Prevention can be a difficult subject to talk about. I agree sexual abuse is not always visible, but perhaps, as others have mentioned, it can aid in judging circumstances based off of our intuition and whether or not we are comfortable or uncomfortable. I definitely would suggest discussing with your boss!

    Once again congrats on the new job!


  10. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    I definitely understand your cynical thoughts on prevention, as I sometimes have those, too. As a sexual assault researcher, I work with several colleagues who do prevention work, and I commend them because they think in ways that I never could, because I am so cynical. I think that your thoughts are valid, but I also think that even if attempts at prevention help show one person what sexual assault and consent are, and can help mold their viewpoints in better ways or at least give them the tools to respond better to this issue, I think it is work worth pursuing. Don’t give up too much hope-it’s definitely important. But it’s okay to be cynical, too, and to remind ourselves that we still have a long way to go in eradicating this issue. Let us know how else we can help.


  11. jamie

    Hey browning19! I actually give trainings on exactly this topic. I teach a program to high school students that helps recognize the warning signs of sexual assault, dating violence, and bullying. Sexual assault is the trickiest one. And honestly I think your perspective is right a lot of the time. It’s really hard to tell especially because so much sexual assault happens by someone the survivor trusted. Also because the window for a bystander to possibly recognize warning signs is so small.

    There was a study done by Dr. David Lisak at the University of Boston called the Undetected Rapist. It was published and is widely used to inform us about preventing sexual violence, specifically on college campuses. Jackson Katz is also a thought leader around bystander intervention. Either of them might be great resources to look into for you if you’re interested in this topic. I’ve learned a lot from both of them, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube of both of them.

    I don’t think anyone has come up with the silver bullet for preventing violence yet, because we are obviously still dealing with it. But I think both of them give great places to start.

  12. JamieMarie25 Volunteer

    I am grateful you got a new job.
    As for your question, as Alyssa stated, we cannot always see it happening until it has happened. I would definitely consult your boss about this, especially if this is a trigger for you.
    Keep us informed.

  13. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi browning19,
    It is good to hear back from you. Congrats on your new job. I think you are right in some ways that you can’t always see sexual violence, but that’s when you have to go off of vibes. If you feel uncomfortable about someone for any reason that’s when you need your guard up and know what to do in those situations.
    If you have any questions about this I would also ask your boss because he can definitely clarify what he said.
    Thanks for the great question.