New ASU certificate provides domestic violence response training for students

The program includes state certification and training for students to help them reduce domestic violence statistics

In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men have reported being a victim of domestic violence, according to the CDC's 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and in 2010, there were over 25,000 arrests in Arizona that were flagged for domestic violence. 

In response the national and local problem, ASU's School of Social Work now offers a certificate in domestic violence that includes undergraduate and graduate courses.

“The things that we are really focused on are training and teaching students about domestic violence,” associate professor at ASU's School of Social Work and prominent scholar in the field, Jill Messing, said. “So that they can go out into any agency and put those skills to use.”

According to Messing, a large focus of the certificate is the two semesters worth of internships in an agency that sees victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.

“Because violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, any sort of forms of gender-based violence are so pervasive in our society, I think often it has just kind of gotten overlooked,” she said. “But right now, it's a moment where people are standing up and saying this is important, and as women, our bodies, our lives are important.”

Criteria for the certificate include a minimum of 56 credit hours, a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and a minimum of 300 hours of domestic violence service acquired through an internship. 

Jasmine Lester, ASU alumna and founder of Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, said the new certificate program looks promising, and she hopes that the University is open to criticisms from students and makes appropriate adjustments should they need to do so.

“The certificate and course have the potential to educate and empower students to positively impact ASU culture if students are allowed to criticize the ASU administration's current and past practices and policies, and if ASU values the criticism and takes action,” she said.

ASU has multiple reporting options and both on and off-campus support groups for victims of sexual assault, and according to statistics posted on the Live Well @ ASU website, 4 percent of female students and 0.9 percent of male students experienced either an attempted or completed sexual assault in 2016.   

Messing said that she hopes that the new certificate program and other efforts to place trained domestic violence advocates in appropriate settings helps ensure that victims get the help that they need. 

"If you're helping people in any capacity, you will run into this issue," postdoctoral research fellow in ASU's School of Social Work, Megan Brown, said. "So if you’re doing it at a professional level, you need to have evidence-based practices at your disposal, and you need to understand how to advocate for people appropriately." 

According to Brown, the program took 2.5 years to finalize, and it's the only one of its kind on the West Coast. 

"We really hope that people feel passionate and knowledgeable and take that knowledge and give the best service possible so that no victim ever faces a situation where they're not believed or understood, and they can't receive the best care possible," she said.

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