FLIP the Script sexual assault resistance program targets first year students

University District

Free program provides students with prevention skills and knowledge about sexual assault cases

Flip the Script co-facilitators Catrina Mavrigianakis (left) and Natalie Brown (right).

The Queen’s Human Rights Office is introducing a FLIP the Script sexual assault resistance education program this November for first year students. 

The 12-hour small-group program is designed to acquaint first-year students with the skills to recognize behavioral and situational elements of a sexual assault case. From Nov. 18 to 26, these sessions will be held for three-hour intervals. Additional sessions will be offered for the winter semester in March.  

In an interview on Wednesday, program co-facilitator Natalie Brown explained the sessions are based on the pillars of EAAA — enhance, acknowledge, assess and act.

Brown said the focus of the enhance pillar will be on beginning a dialogue surrounding relationships and sex. “We have an open dialogue about relationships and try to help women discover their relationship and sexual goals while in university,” she said. 

“The second unit is acknowledge, where we help women understand the danger that they’re in and that the majority of sexual assaults that we see on campus and in general are perpetrated by male acquaintances,” Brown continued. 

In terms of the assess pillar, Brown stated the goal is to increase a female’s knowledge of the commonality of rape and its perpetrators. “The biggest common elements to a sexual assault situation are being in an isolated situation, being indoors and the presence of alcohol,” she said.

In the final two sessions, act and enhance, the program introduces Wen-Do, a style of martial arts that focuses on self-defense for women and a discussion component. 

The focus of the enhance pillar is beginning a dialogue surrounding relationships and sex. “We have an open dialogue about relationships and try to help women discover their relationship and sexual goals while in university,” said Brown, adding, “I’ve been trained for over 100 hours to facilitate the program.”  

Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator Barbara Lotan supported Brown’s statement in an email to The Journal, adding “the focus of the program is recognizing the danger that may be posed by acquaintances, people that we know.” 

“The core values of the project recognize that women have the right to be safe, we have the right to the relationships we want, we have the right to ask for the physical intimacy we do or don’t want,” Lotan wrote. “We are very competent to defend ourselves both verbally and physically.” 

FLIP the Script emerged from over 10 years of research conducted by psychology professor Charlene Senn at the University of Windsor. For its second wave of development, Queen’s was invited to incorporate the program on campus. 

Lotan and Human Rights Advisor Margot Coulter facilitated the program’s development this year at Queen’s by training three facilitators: Brown, Luissa Vahedi and Catrina Mavrigianakis, who are all graduate students studying at the University. 

“[Coulter and Lotan] raised all the funds to get this program up and running and really made it a personal mission to bring it to Queen’s,” Brown said. 

As the program targets first-year students, Brown’s team focused their advertising in residences highlighting that it’s free of charge. Even though it won’t cost anything, Brown believes the sensitive subject matter of the program may make some students hesitant to enroll. 

“As a first-year, not everyone is really open to speaking about sexuality and sexual violence and so I think what I would want first years to know is that we’re going to do it in a really safe way,” she said. “It’s going to be a safe space and completely confidential and we have respect for everyone that enters that room.”

Regardless, she believes it’s important that the conversation is had and women do everything they can to protect themselves from a rising sexual assault trend.

“I think when I entered university, the statistic that one in four women will be sexually assaulted before they graduated was just a statistic,” Brown remarked. “By the time I graduated, it felt real.” 

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