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May 19, 2022

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UW Medicine looks to teach friends and family of sexual assault survivors how to offer support

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Most services for sexual assault survivors focus on survivors alone, but what if loved ones were taught how to help?

UW Medicine is seeking participants for a new study focused on training survivors’ friends and family on how to support recovery after sexual assault.

“A lot of the time, the people around us want to help, but just aren’t sure how,” said Emily Dworkin, the study’s lead investigator and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UW Medicine.

The CARE Program, offered in English and Spanish, will take part in two confidential video appointments with an expert who has been specially trained to teach support skills.

A survivor of a sexual assault — defined as unwanted sexual contact without consent — which has occurred within the previous 10 weeks will enroll in the study together with a designated supporter.

Nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The Program for Trauma Recovery Innovations is conducting the study in partnership with the Harborview Abuse and Trauma Center. Survivors and designated supporters may receive $110 each as compensation for participating.

“The supporter can be anybody in their life who already knows about the assault and is able and willing to provide them good support moving forward,” Dworkin said.

Learn more about the study and how to enroll at takecareaftertrauma.com.

“I think we can all look back on a time in our life where we were going through something difficult and we didn’t get the kind of support that we needed,” Dworkin said. “I think all of us can appreciate how much more difficult that would be after something like sexual assault.”

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