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CAPS will host two safe dating seminars for multicultural students

Ceara Corry, MPA, MSW, LCSWA; Social Worker. Photo taken by Daniel Brown

Content Warning: This article mentions rape and sexual violence.




Two programs hosted by UNC's Counseling and Psychological Services Multicultural Health Program are hoping to shed light on the increased sexual violence toward marginalized communities. 

These seminars aim to help students prevent harassment and promote healthy dating habits, orchestrated by the MCHP and the UNC Gender Violence Service Coordinators. 

“Green Flags: Healthy Relationships and Safe Dating for International Students” will be held on Friday, Oct. 28, at 1:00 p.m. in room 3407 of the Carolina Union. “Healing Forward: Intimacy after Trauma for BIPOC Students” will be on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 5:00 p.m. in room 3201 of the Student Union. 

Ceara Corry, a licensed clinical social worker associate with the MCHP and a UNC alumna, works as a liaison between the MCHP and GVSC. 

“It is not meant to be a lecture, and it's not going to be talking at people for an hour and a half," she said. "It's more activity- and discussion-based.” 

Erinn Scott, assistant director for the MCHP, spoke about the difficulties international students may face when adjusting to American university culture.

“We're seeing more international students accessing services, holding to traditional cultural norms and trying to adjust to American norms around dating and consent,” Scott said. 

Susan Chung, a licensed clinical social worker at CAPS and a part of the MCHP, said they knew of a former international student that lacked prior knowledge about trauma and its warning signs, though this student had unknowingly experienced it. 

“She didn't realize that it was a trauma until we started talking about it,” she said. “I hope that (students) can gain something, learn something and then prevent themselves any further harm.”

Black female students are twice as likely to receive unwanted sexual touching compared to other ethnic groups, according to a survey by Columbia University's Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Information.

According to Corry, there is a tendency for students to rush the healing process, one of the topics to be covered at one of the sessions, along with accepting and navigating the experience of intimacy after experiencing trauma. 

The three officials stressed the importance of respecting one’s comfort level and recognizing when a situation has exceeded a limit. 

“One thing that I encourage students is to trust your gut. If it doesn't feel right, your gut instinct is there for a reason,” Corry said. 

Chung also said creating a plan before going to social events, setting a drink limit and speaking with American friends are beneficial ways to prevent unwanted sexual contact for international students who may not realize dangerous scenarios or may feel obligated to fit in. 

They also said controlling behavior in domestic or casual situations is another warning sign of an abusive relationship.

The seminar is open to all students looking to support peers or for information on healthier relationships and safe sexual activities. 

“You can also come if you're here to learn how to support a partner or a friend better," Corry said. "So it doesn't even have to be that you've experienced any sort of trauma yourself.” 

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As a reminder, Scott hopes students will take advantage of the services offered within CAPS, including specialized group therapy, brief individual therapy, outreach and other programs.

“I think the most important thing is that we are really here for students," Scott said. "We are student-focused, student-driven, and we value feedback. And, we hope that it means that more students, international students and students of color access our services.”