Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative
Western Illinois University
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
About the IVPI
WIU received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, (OVW) to help further reduce incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The three-year grant initiative reflects a collaborative effort among approximately two dozen departments in Student Services, Academic Affairs and Administrative Services, student organizations and community agencies that serve individuals affected by sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, including the Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency's Victim Services (WIRC-CAA VS) and campus and local police. This initiative will provide campus and community partners with new tools designed to help address the critical need for comprehensive education, prevention, intervention and sanctioning of offenders of interpersonal violence, with the goal of reducing the prevalence and effects of interpersonal violence on campus.
Figures from the American College Health Association’s 2008 National College Health Assessment indicated approximately 1,447 students at WIU had experienced sexually aggressive behavior or attempted/completed sexual assault, almost 900 had experienced stalking, and another 1,802 had likely experienced emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse within a relationship. Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin’s research, which she conducted on the WIU-Macomb campus from 2006-2009, found that of the 1,276 women surveyed, 19.4 percent reported a history of domestic or dating violence, 13.3 percent reported a history of sexual aggression or assault and 32.1 percent reported being stalked.
The grant benefits students by allowing the University to develop a coordinated response to interpersonal violence that includes mental health and medical care, and will help to increase awareness of resources available. Goals for the project also include:
- Developing online- and in-person training for campus police officers and judicial board members on laws, policies and protocols for responding to interpersonal violence victims
- Implementation of a required education program on interpersonal violence for all incoming students
- Developing a peer-led, bystander intervention program
- Programming that addresses interpersonal violence prevention for underrepresented groups such as minority students
- Creating a comprehensive website and marketing campaign on interpersonal violence information and resources
- Creating an Interpersonal Violence Response Team led by an Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator
WIU has demonstrated a long history of commitment to developing and strengthening resources and support services for, and education about, interpersonal violence. Rape awareness programming at WIU started in the mid-1970s, when Student Personnel Services (now Student Development and Orientation) and University Counseling Center staff members Nell Koester, Cari Sheets and Jo Ann Hummers initiated programming and conducted survivor support groups, which continue today.