Researchers at the University of New Hampshire will spend the next year developing a program to train students on how to respond to peers when told about incidents of sexual violence.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded over $600,000 to the project, which is led by UNH Associate Professor Katie Edwards.
Research shows a supportive response from peers, one that doesn’t cast doubt or blame on the victim, can make a big difference in someone’s ability to recover from sexual violence, Edwards said.
Beginning next fall, her team will train students on both verbal and non-verbal best practices, such as making eye contact, nodding, and leaning in.
Researchers will then monitor the training’s effect on both victims and those they turn to for support.
If the results are promising, Edwards said, the project could be expanded beyond the student population.