Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

New Club to Support Survivors of Assault and Violence


When senior Greg Osberg posted a message on Facebook over the summer asking if anyone at Seattle University would be interested in a club for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, he wasn’t sure what kind of reaction—if any—would get back to him on such a sensitive topic. But the response was quick and enthusiastic: Yes, Seattle U could use a space where survivors are able speak openly about their experiences without feeling pressured to formally report anything.


Kayla Todd and Greg Osberg.

Osberg and senior Kayla Todd intend to address that need with Survivor Support Network (SSN), a new organization aimed at creating a safe community space for survivors of assault and violence. Just a few months after the idea for SSN first came about, 20 students are a part of the group and dozens more have expressed interest.

“I was overwhelmed by the response and the number of people who actively wanted to be involved,” Osberg said. “It means a lot that the group has taken off in this way and that so many people are interested.”

In addition to helping survivors find community support on campus, the group plans to host informational and training events for those who do not identify as survivors, covering topics like the impact of rape culture and how to have a healthy relationship with someone who has been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Though SSN events and meetings will primarily be survivor-led, the group is not exclusive. Anyone else on campus—allies to survivors, or survivors who don’t wish to disclose their status—are welcome to join. SSN member Marissa DiBella, a first-year graduate student in the clinical and mental health counseling program, said the role of allies in the group is a crucial one.

“I think it’s really important that while we keep the focus survivor-based, we have the inclusion of allies,” she said. “It’s important that everyone is having these conversations, not just people that have to have the conversations because it’s something they’re dealing with.”

Osberg’s idea for SSN was inspired over the summer by his work at Mayor Ed Murray’s office on domestic violence and sexual assault. His job got him thinking about possible improvements and additions to services for student survivors at Seattle U, and in August, he reached out to Todd.

“People in my life started disclosing to me more about their status as survivors,” Osberg said. “I heard a lot of stories of people who were kind of harmed by the university in some way, and just gaps in services. And then I called Kayla and [said], ‘hey, there’s a group that I think could be really useful.’”

The two became co-founders of SSN by the end of the summer. Todd, who identifies as a survivor, said she hopes the group will address needs not already met for students at Seattle U.

“We saw that on our campus there’s a lot of effort for prevention work—and there are definitely resources like CAPS for people who are survivors—but we saw a gap in a community space for survivors,” Todd said. “We want to try to build up that community at the university.”

It didn’t take long for more students to become involved. Among the new members is senior Sydney Allen, a social work major who has researched sexual assault and domestic violence from a public policy perspective for the past two years. She now holds the position of SSN’s financial advisor.

“I’ve spent so much time doing research, being the pencil-pusher, but for me this is a chance to actually do something and help real people,” Allen said. “That’s all I’ve ever really wanted.”

The biggest goal for the group this year, Osberg and Todd agreed, is sustainability. They hope to establish a solid enough presence on campus so that younger students will be able to take the reins once the co-founders graduate.

“I think at some point it would be really cool if we could see it popping up across the country,” Osberg said. “But right now it’s just a matter of being accountable for this community.”

There are currently no official meeting dates for the group, but Osberg and Todd said a schedule will be available soon. Students interested in joining SSN can visit or follow the group’s Facebook page (Survivor’s Support Network) for updates on upcoming meetings and events throughout the year.

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