UWP Esteem group to hold program on sexual assault

November 19, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-Approaching a tough topic with a sensitive side, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Esteem Peer Education Group will present a program on sexual assault to the Greek organizations and other campus groups at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the University Room of the Pioneer Student Center.

While Esteem presents a program every year on sexual assault education, this year's format will differ from previous programs. In the past, Esteem went to each Greek organization individually, giving presentations that followed a Jeopardy theme with a question and answer format. This year, the sexual assault program will include facts, myths and personal stories of sexual assault.

"It was my idea to try a new format for the sexual assault program," said Amanda Tvedt, UWP student and Esteem peer educator. "I worked with a program similar to this in my high school and it seemed to be more effective than just giving students the straight facts on sexual assault."

Tvedt, along with fellow Esteem member and student Ruth Nagel, will present her testimonial of sexual assault during the program. Both girls were victims of sexual assault but have very different stories to tell.

"I was in an abusive relationship on and off from the age of 14 to 16 years old," Tvedt said. "The one person I told didn't believe me, so I never reported it to the police, and it affected me for a long time. I developed eating disorders and depression and had problems trusting men for a long time."

Tvedt's encounter with sexual assault is far more common than Nagel's horrific experience. Roughly 70 percent of sexual assault victims know the perpetrator before the assault. Only 30 percent of sexual assault victims are assaulted by strangers, as was Nagel's case.

"I'll be talking about my sexual assault experience which happened while I was abroad two years ago in England," Nagel said. "I was attacked by a stranger while walking home on a fairly busy street. The attacker held me down and punched me while a couple watched from across the street. When he knocked my glasses off, I was finally able to get away."

Nagel did report the incident to the police, however, with little results.

"Despite the fact that I had scrapes and bruises, the police didn't want to believe me because it was a small town and they had the mentality that this sort of thing didn't happen there," Nagel said. "While coping with the attack was hard enough, the fact that people stood by and watched this happen to me and did nothing to stop it, made the attack all the more difficult to deal with."

During the program, Nagel and Tvedt will compare and contrast their stories, discuss how the assaults affected them and what they have done to overcome their ordeals.

In addition to educating fellow students on sexual assault, Esteem provides information to students on an array of health-related issues varying from sexually transmitted diseases and birth control options to eating disorders and drug and alcohol abuse.

"I'm glad we have a group like Esteem on campus," Tvedt said. "I think Esteem is a good program. We don't talk down to students or discriminate against them."

Tvedt is a sophomore at UWP majoring in English literature. She is the daughter of Ron and Kim Tvedt of Oconomowoc and a graduate of Oconomowoc High School. When Tvedt finishes her education at UWP, she plans to pursue a career in social work. In addition to her work with Esteem, Tvedt is the lead singer of the band Envy, which placed second at last year's Battle of the Bands at UWP.

Nagel is a senior at UWP with a major in business. She is a graduate of St. Joan Antida High School in Milwaukee and the daughter of Clarice and Anton Nagel of Milwaukee. Nagel anticipates graduating in May 2003 and plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation. She is also a member of Campus Programming and Relations (CPR) and a member of the Sexual Assault Awareness Council.

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