How to Support Sexual Assault Survivors

It’s easy to respond to a speaker who prompts the audience to say “cat,” “hat” and “bicycle.” But why does everyone hesitate when the word is “rape”? DePaul student Anna Nettie Hanson, a sexual assault survivor and author, says she knows why: “Rape is absolutely a difficult subject to talk about.” But, as she discussed at a DePaul Women’s Network Brown Bag luncheon on April 24, people must get past that fear in order to discuss an important topic.

The “Empowering through Assistance” event had two parts. First, Hanson told her personal story of surviving sexual assault and answered questions from the audience. Then, Rima Shaw, sexual health and violence prevention coordinator with DePaul’s Office of Health Promotion & Wellness, shared best practices and university resources that staff and faculty can embrace to show more support to friends in their own lives and to university students.

The event provided the following insight on how to support sexual assault survivors.

Anna Nettie Hanson book1. Start talking (Even if It’s Uncomfortable)

Hanson, who is studying communications and Spanish in DePaul’s honors program, told her personal story of being raped as a high school senior in 2011. To deal with the experience, she wrote a book, “For Now: Words of the Girl Who Fought Back.” Hanson acknowledged that sharing her story, as tough as it is, is part of what helps her heal and is a way to connect with others: “I don’t do it because it’s easy. I do it because it’s important.”

2. Raise Awareness

In her presentation, Hanson shared important statistics about sexual assault:

  • In America, one in six women will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault in her lifetime. In the world, that ratio is one in three.
  • Of 100 rapes, only five to 20 are ever reported. Of those reported, just 0.2 to five include a conviction. Unlike many cases that go unprosecuted, Hanson was able to see her attacker convicted and jailed.
  • In the United States, there are 400,000 untested rape kits.

3. Lend Your Support

During the question portion, an audience member asked how to help a loved one after an assault. Hanson talked about the importance of being supportive if you’re unsure of how to act: “I give you the permission to not know what to say. … You can just say, ‘I’m here.’”

Shah echoed that sentiment in her presentation on “Supporting Our Student Survivors.”

  • Begin by offering emotional support when someone comes to you with news of an assault. Listen and let the person know you are supportive: “I believe you.” “You did not deserve this.” “It was not your fault.”
  • Give the person options and let them make decisions. For example, provide referrals to on- and off-campus support services.
  • Don’t tell the person how to feel.
  • Don’t worry too much about saying the right thing; just focus on being there.

4. Do Your Research: Resources for Supporting Students

The Office of Health Promotion & Wellness has a number of handouts for faculty and staff who want to learn more about supporting students. Here are just a few resources DePaul faculty and staff should remember:

DWN Membership, Explained

Are you confused about what it means to become a DWN Member? By reading on, you’ll discover 7 answers to 7 of your most frequently asked questions about DWN Membership—just in time to apply to join us for 2013-14!

1. Aren’t I already a member?

We answer this question by explaining the difference between DWN participants and DWN members. Both are avenues for getting involved with DWN and supporting the overall DePaul community.

DWN Participants

DWN events are open to all DePaul faculty and staff (including part-time workers) regardless of gender. Without DWN participants to attend events, we would not have a DePaul Women’s Network.

Participants contribute a great deal to DWN’s success:

  • Participants help keep the network alive by encouraging co-workers to attend events, sharing ideas and perspectives, and completing the DWN event evaluation forms.
  • Participants make networking with women across the university possible.

DWN Members

DWN membership is limited to women faculty and staff. DWN members make up the group of volunteers who help plan and execute DWN events throughout the year. Any woman on DePaul’s faculty or staff is welcome to apply to join DWN as a director or general member within 1 of 6 DWN areas.

2. What are the different DWN areas to which members can contribute?

There are 6 areas of DWN that encourage members to share their strengths:

  1. Programming
  2. Communications
  3. Events
  4. Mission & Service (New for 2013-14)
  5. Outreach (New for 2013-14)
  6. Operations

For detailed descriptions of the 6 DWN areas, review the How to Join DWN page or DWN Area Summaries.

3. What is the difference between a director position and a general member position?

Director Position

The directors help mentor the next generation of DWN leaders. This position requires previous project management and/or supervisor experience. The director manages a team of general members within 1 of the 6 areas of DWN.

General Member Position

A general member is a volunteer on 1 of the 6 DWN areas under the guidance of an area director. When applying for a position, please express at least 2 DWN areas that interest you.

4. What are the benefits of DWN membership?

  • Broaden your professional and personal network
  • Support and contribute to Vision 2018 diversity goals
  • Sharpen your skills and build your resume
  • Join an insanely fun group of women!

5. How long does my membership last?

After being selected to be a member of DWN, you are expected to commit to one year of service to the DePaul Women’s Network: July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.

6. How do I apply for a director or general member position?

Review Application Instructions

Submit Your Application

Send the completed Member Application Form and signed Direct Manager Support Form along with your resume to with attention to next year’s DWN President, Joy Boggs.

7. What if I am still confused about what it means to be a member?

Applications are being accepted through April 5, 2013 – apply today!

Annual Event Preview: What is a Motherhood Roundtable?

DWN is busy preparing for our 2013 Annual Event, A Connected Community: Navigating Personal Path and Mapping Professional Growth, which will take place on March 7 at the Lincoln Park Student Center. We’re incredibly excited to welcome this year’s keynote speaker, Alison Cuddy from WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago Public Radio.

Participants also can choose to attend a wide variety of breakout sessions, including two interactive Motherhood Roundtables. Ashley Jackson, from the Annual Event Committee, shared some details about how the Motherhood Roundtables will work. Read on, and remember to register to attend! Visit the Annual Event website to learn more about the other sessions and speakers.

CC_color_wordsWhere did the idea for the Motherhood Roundtables come from?

During the programming brainstorming phase, we were all throwing out great ideas related to women’s empowerment and self-care. It dawned on me that one of the most untapped topics at the Annual Event is one of the most common topics we all talk about with our friends and family members – our personal thoughts on motherhood. Once I brought forth the idea of motherhood as a programming topic, the committee helped build the rest. We wanted to focus on motherhood and how it affects your professional drive and climb.

Are the roundtables just for mothers or also for women without children?

The sessions are open to anyone. The committee felt that it would be good to provide a variety of topics so everyone could participate. We will have table discussions for new mothers, experienced mothers, women considering motherhood, adopting mothers, women not seeking motherhood and so on.

How will the sessions work?

We will have an experienced facilitator (a mix of faculty and staff) at each table ready to answer questions and address some common misconceptions about motherhood and professionalism. As I mentioned, there will be something for everyone. We will have note cards with quotes and questions, and we feel strongly that the discussions will lead themselves if the passion is present. We will also provide tips and strategies on how to manage your personal goals as they relates to motherhood and your professional goals.

What should people expect to learn?

We want women to walk away feeling more confident about their personal choices related to motherhood. They hopefully will gain some insightful tips and strategies on career management and how to navigate the world of the working mother, or navigate the world of the non-motherhood seekers. They are both very complex worlds. It sometimes takes a conversation with another person who shares your passions and convictions to feel comfortable with the tough choices we all have made and will have to make as women.

Should participants come prepared with questions?

Of course. A small part of the discussion will focus on resources DePaul offers to women who seek motherhood. We hope that women come prepared to share their own experiences as well. As the old saying goes … it takes a village!

Have you registered to attend the Annual Event? Leave us a comment about what you hope to learn from the event. If you’re not registered, sign up today!

What to Expect at DWN’s Winter Faculty Event

Post by Lark Mills, Communication and Technology Co-Chair

Illustration of People Climbing a Ladder

DWN Faculty committee co-chairs Carolyn Bronstein, Maria Ferrera and Rebecca Johns-Trissler share what to expect at their upcoming event, Life on the Academic Ladder, on Jan. 25. They also provide advice for faculty starting their careers and for staff who may be interested in teaching.

Who will be speaking at the event?

The panel of speakers for this event includes women at various stages of their academic careers at DePaul University.

Panelist Moderator

Panelist Speakers

What is the format for this event?


The event will begin with breakfast and informal networking.

Panel Q&A

Carolyn, the panelist moderator, will ask the panelists to share an opening statement to identify where they are at on the academic ladder. Are they starting out relatively fresh from graduate school, mid-ladder, or close to the top in terms of rank and academic experience?

Next, Carolyn will ask the panel to share insights that have helped them move from rung to rung. This may include the best choices they have made as well as some choices that, in retrospect, did not yield hoped-for results. Furthermore, Carolyn will prompt the speakers to share what has been rewarding at each stage of their careers and also what challenges that they have faced along the way.

Open Questions

Attendees will have the opportunity to address their own questions toward the panel.

What have you learned that you wish you had known early on in your academic career? What advice would you give faculty who are first starting out in their career?

Carolyn Bronstein Profile PhotoCarolyn: I advise junior faculty to be very clear about their research agendas and to try to focus on projects that advance those agendas in clear, defined ways. I was very open to projects in different areas when I was a junior faculty member, and although the intellectual exploration was pleasant and led me in mostly productive directions, I could have benefitted from a sharper focus.

What are the most common obstacles that faculty face in their academic careers?

Maria Ferrera Profile Photo Maria: The landscape of expectations to receive tenure seems to be changing and diverse between departments. It is difficult to really know where you stand within the process sometimes. There also seems to be little dialogue about the challenges of balancing and raising a family as an academic, particularly when you belong to a collectivist culture that inevitably will breed internal conflict in response to the demands of this position.

Rebecca Johns-Trissler Profile Photo

Rebecca: This answer is different for different specialties, but a common issue women faculty face is that they’re building their careers at the same time they’re beginning to build their families. Faculty work provides a generally good work-life balance, but that balance can be more difficult to create while you’re working your way up to tenure, needing to spend a great deal of time on publications and research. I wrote the entirety of my second book after my daughter was born, feeling enormous pressure to do so. Having a child put a tremendous damper on my ability to research for the book. I was not able to travel to Europe to do on-the-ground research I might have done if I hadn’t had an infant at home. And yet, I was more efficient with the time I did have, using it to better purpose than I had previously, knowing I had to pay a babysitter if I wanted to write.

What do you hope that faculty and staff get out of this event? Why should people attend this event?

Carolyn Bronstein Profile PhotoCarolyn: Academia is a complex career with many formal stages. Our hope is to demystify some of the “rungs” of the ladder for those who have yet to climb them. You can feel very alone during the tenure process and alone afterwards when you are confronting the “now what” questions that are common among mid-career faculty. Therefore, connecting with others who have shared similar experiences is valuable and comforting. For staff who may be contemplating a move toward teaching and research, this event is great opportunity to hear about the realities of academic life, which can be different from what people may picture or imagine. People should attend to hear diverse perspectives on the academic life from a wide range of talented colleagues who represent all stages of the ladder.

We’d love to hear from you.

  • Will you be attending this event?
  • What do you hope to get out of it? 
  • Which rung are you at on the academic ladder?
Registration for this event closes Monday, January 23, 2013.

How Emotions Affect Money: An Interview with a DWN Guest Speaker

DWN Communication and Technology Chair Lark Mills recently spoke with Julie Murphy Casserly, an independent certified financial planner and author, to discuss her unique approach to financial planning and her upcoming talk at the DWN Winter Brown Bag Luncheon on January 17, 2013.

JulieHeadshot_2011-1Julie Murphy Casserly, founder of JMC Wealth Management, Inc. and author of  The Emotion Behind Money: Building Wealth from the Inside Out, took a break from her busy schedule to speak with me by phone. Not only is Julie a top expert in her field, but she is also a savvy, female entrepreneur; she uses social media to reach out to her current and prospective clients by providing them with a wealth of information and inviting them to join the conversation

Julie Murphy Casserly’s Upbringing

Julie was the second oldest of 12 kids growing up. She explained that she did not grow up with money, but from an early age, she was intrigued with how money can grow.

“I’ll never forget the first time I realized that they paid you interest on a savings account. That was a big aha moment in my world. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I used to deliver the Sun Times and the Tribune before school every day and I was always reading the business section. I always had an interest in finance and clearly it made me who I am today.”

What Inspired The Emotion Behind Money: Building Wealth from the Inside Out

Julie was a finance major and said the idea of writing a book herself did not seem feasible at first. However, people repeatedly encouraged her to put her advice on paper, and she eventually decided to go for it. The book debuted in August 2008. “The timing was impeccable because it was right before the stock market crash and within 30 days of my book being out, I found myself being flown to New York to be on the money desk of CNBC,” Julie explained.

When I asked Julie how her book is different from other finance books, she explained that she acknowledges the emotional side of money, which is a key component that is overlooked in her industry. Julie argues that a balance between financial numbers and emotional numbers is the real key to financial success. Moreover, Julie explained that we tend to operate only our left-side, logical brains when trying to manage our finances when we should also be operating our right-side, emotional brains in order to break the cycle of financial mistakes. “It is human beings making emotional decisions day-in and day-out and so that is the bridge that I have created in my business, just acknowledging and honoring people who are building their financial plan [and helping them find a balance between their emotional and financial numbers.]”

Financial Advice for Women

When I asked Julie if she had any financial advice specifically for women, she argued that women need to empower themselves to be more conscious about their spending habits.

“Women give away their personal power to money! They let money control their lives because of unconscious spending and wanting to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to money. When they get afraid, they choose to avoid handling it. So, it is really about empowering women to not shy away from it [money management], but to embrace it and acknowledge the emotional component. We either work things out or we act things out. When we act things out financially, there is something you are unhappy about in your life and it has nothing to do with money and you act it out by buying that dress or buying that latte to fill that void.”

Julie has lived through what she teaches to her clients: she made financial mistakes and consciously decided to end that cycle of financial dysfunction. Julie offered this overview of money management: “It is about cleaning up your financial past, which is all your debt, while living in the present moment and planning for the future at the same time.” Julie is more than a traditional financial planner; she helps guide her clients toward financial healing.

Preview to Julie’s Talk at DWN’s 2013 Winter Brown Bag Luncheon

Julie gave me a hint to what she will discuss at the DWN Winter Brown Bag Luncheon. She will focus on encouraging us to adopt a different approach to money management. She will provide us with tips and tools on how to make good financial decisions based on our personal goals and desires.

You can learn more about Julie on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and her blog. To register for Julie’s event with the DePaul Women’s Network, visit DWN’s Brown Bag Luncheons page.

What is your personal finance philosophy? Do you have any financial goals for the New Year?

Related Post

Former DWN President, Ann Marie Klotz shares her two cents about her 2013 financial goals.

DWN’s History, as Told by a Past President

DWN Communication & Technology Chair Lark Mills recently spoke with former DWN President Jessica Hallam (FY 2010-11) to get her perspective on how the organization has evolved over the years. 

When the DePaul Women’s Network was first founded by a group of executive-level women, it was known as Women in Leadership (WIL). The initial focus centered on cultivating female leadership at DePaul University. Today, DWN has an expanded mission to support all women at the university in various areas of personal and professional development.

Jessica’s Personal History with DWN

Jessica Hallam headshotJessica started as a spectator when attending meetings in 2008. She was then asked to help plan the first annual event in 2008 along with co-chair Gillian Steel. Jessica helped organize the Annual Event again in 2009 and succeeded in attracting over 200 participants. In 2010, Jessica became the DWN president. During her term, she established the marketing committee in order to further improve DWN’s structure and branding initiatives. The marketing committee helped develop the DWN word logo, print materials to promote DWN events and a communication plan. “I said we need[ed] a marketing committee so that everything we did looked and felt professional and was consistent so when you put out an email about DWN, it all was professionally done and there was an evaluation afterward [after DWN events].”

Jessica’s Thoughts on DWN’s Early Leaders

Jessica explained that her view of DWN’s beginnings is simple: “There was a core group of high leaders… the grandmother group. They took the organization as far as they could until they realized they needed to open it up to women of various levels at the university in order to keep the momentum moving.”

That group included Jay BraatzPeggy BurkeSusanne DumbletonDenise MattsonErin MoranElizabeth OrtizDeb Schmidt-RogersBarbara Shaffer and Gillian Steel.

Jessica’s View of the Transformation from WIL to DWN

In 2008, WIL was at a standstill. This group of early leaders started a discussion for what needed to happen to get the organization moving again. They knew they needed to establish better structure. Peggy Burke became president and held a brainstorming session.  As a result of this meeting, the tri-president model, the planning committee and other committees for planning specific events, like brown bag luncheons and the annual event were established. According to Jessica, Deb Schmidt Rogers argued to adopt a new-grass-roots initiative:

  • Create an organization for women who need and want to grow their skills
  • Make DWN a vehicle on campus
  • Make DWN a well-grounded organization at the University

In order to better reflect this new initiative, they changed the name from Women in Leadership (WIL) to DePaul Women’s Network (DWN).

Jessica Praises DWN’s Accomplishments

Jessica explained that DWN should be proud of how far we have come in regard to establishing structure. For example, we now have a formal re-election process, implemented by current DWN President Christine Gallagher Kearney. We now have our own department ID for the DWN budget. We now have a secretary position, thanks to past president Ann Marie Klotz, to help serve as a resource and provide minutes at meetings. Furthermore, DWN’s social media outlets (this blog, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) are enabling more women to find out about events and learn how to get involved. The timeline below demonstrates DWN’s accomplishments from 2003 to today.

DWN Timeline: 2003-2013

Jessica explained, “There were a lot of things that needed time… to nurture… to get the message across and to find the right mix of people that had the time to commit… that had the juices if you will.” Jessica further explained that today’s DWN not only includes women with experience to bring to the table, but also women who are looking for opportunities to grow, network and learn from one another. There is a learning component of DWN now that did not exist with WIL.

Jessica’s Outlook for DWN’s Future

Jessica is pleased that DWN is reflecting on its history. She encouraged us to talk to more early leaders of the group because everyone will have her own twist on DWN’s history. “I believe an organization as lively and as dedicated as DWN is going to continue to move forward. I don’t know where DWN is going to end but at some point it is going to be part of DePaul history.”

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. What is your perspective on DWN’s history? What is your personal history with DWN? We welcome your comments.
Check back for “6 Challenges in DWN History, as Told by a Past President.” Jessica Hallam talks about DWN’s past issues of debate and how we have worked toward resolving them over the years.

A Chat with the DWN President (Part III): Why and How to Get Involved

Christine Gallagher Kearney, DWN PresidentDWN Communication & Technology Chair Lark Mills recently sat down with Christine Gallagher Kearney, president of the DePaul Women’s Network for fiscal year 2013 (July 2012 through June 2013).

In Part II of the chat with DWN President Christine Gallagher Kearney, she discussed the mission and goals of DWN. In this final Part III, hear Christine’s thoughts on why and how to get involved with DWN.

What are some benefits to volunteering with the DePaul Women’s Network?

Explore Leadership & Service Opportunities

DWN gives you a chance to branch outside of your normal 9-to-5 duties. It allows you to step into a leadership role and serve the university in a capacity that supports the mission and values of DePaul. Since DWN roles are volunteer positions, women get an opportunity to do something they are passionate about, even if it is not within their current job description.

Gain Confidence & Exposure to New Areas

Volunteering with DWN also provides you opportunity to gain confidence in areas that you don’t get exposure to in your day-to-day job. You get exposure to multiple areas of the university by meeting women in various departments.

Leader in front of a CrowdBecome a Standout Resource

Being involved with DWN allows you to be a standout in your own department. Once other women find out that you are in a position to execute ideas, people start coming to you as a resource. You become a point person because you are part of the network. You create connections with more women at DePaul, so you become an information hub.

Utilize Your Talents & Explore Interests

Maybe your day job at DePaul only provides you with opportunities to use a few of your skills and explore only a few of your interests. By volunteering with DWN, you can explore other interests and skills. There are various committees that are part of the planning committee board. Just pick one that interests you and get involved.

Grow Your Support Network

DWN is a resource within the university that can help you grow your support network. I’ve gotten to know many women at the university and I recognize tons of women just from having attended and hosted events. The annual event is nice because it always involves great conversations with other women about work-life balance, women’s issues, professional development and careers at DePaul. It’s getting the human contact that is important for the human spirit. DePaul really stands for that human element, so DWN strives to respect and validate this element.
Because of the network, you may make a new friend at work that you can call on to work through professional development or work-life balance issues. DWN provides you with another resource to call upon when you don’t know what to do in a certain situation. If you are struggling with an issue, it’s nice to bounce your thoughts off another colleague from DWN. The DWN women are here to back you up when you need it.

How can DePaul female faculty and staff get involved with DWN?

Talk to Your Manager

First and foremost, you need the support of your manager. It is important to have a conversation with your direct supervisor to discuss the time commitment. It does take time away from your regular job, so you need to be able to set aside time to work on the network and be committed to doing something above and beyond your normal job duties.

Know Yourself

You also have to be clear on why you want to be involved with the organization. All reasons are legitimate, whether you have a passion for women’s issues or you want to get professional development experience. Moreover, it is important to bring ideas and be able to identify your own strengths so that you can articulate them at board meetings. You need to be able to confidently express your ideas and how you want to contribute to the network.

Contact Us

It is each planning board member’s responsibility to be an ambassador and take the time to talk to other women at the university who have questions about how to get involved with DWN. You can contact anyone on the board and say, “Can we have a one-on-one conversation? I want to run something by you.” The one thing that is so awesome about the planning board is that everyone is there as a resource to any woman at the university.

Choose a Commitment Level

There are lots of ways to volunteer with DWN and lots of ways to spend your time. It does not have to be a year-long commitment. Maybe you only want to help on the day of the annual event by checking in registered participants. That’s fantastic. We need people like that. Maybe you want to volunteer the entire year on the new communications and technology committee. That’s a bigger commitment.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my passions?
  • How much time do I have to devote?
  • How much support do I have within my department?

Related Posts

A Chat with DWN President (Part I): Leadership

A Chat with DWN President (Part II): Mission & Goals

We welcome you to comment about how and why you would like to get involved with DWN. In what other capacities have you volunteered or contributed to your community (whether at DePaul or elsewhere)? What were some unexpected benefits? What motivated you to volunteer?