October 30, 2020

Wilson Discusses Trauma, Virginia Beach Shooting Anniversary

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Associate Professor of Psychology Laura Wilson spoke with WHRO Public Media, an NPR affiliate in Norfolk, about the anniversary of the Virginia Beach mass shooting on May 31 and the process of recovery for survivors.

People work through trauma in different ways, said Laura Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. Some may have channel their grief into political activism, some people organize events, some retreat into themselves, while others seek solace in people who can relate to their experience.

“Anything a person can do to create meaning around a loss can be vital to getting their life back on track,” she said.

But any of those things is likely more difficult in a pandemic.

“As you start to put additional stressors on people who are already struggling, that’s only going to further impact their mental health issues,” Wilson said. Read more.

Survivors Grapple With Putting Trauma Aside To Vote For Joe Biden (The Huffington Post)

25th Anniversary for Day of Silence, Friday, April 24

The following message is from the Office of Equity and Access.

Friday, April 24th, will mark the 25th Anniversary for Day of Silence*. We are asking the UMW Community to virtually participate in this vital event. We may not be able to create a rainbow of shirts on the grass of Ball Circle, but the UMW community continues to affirm an inclusive and supportive community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) citizens and allies. We can demonstrate this by letting our voice be heard via #UMWisHOME and we must #breakthesilence.

Here is a toolkit to help make your voice heard on Friday, April 24th, during the Annual Day of Silence:

  • At 12pm, create a virtual “Moment of Silence” by posting our unified image to your individual or UMW affiliated accounts on social media. Please see attached images for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can add any of the following information from GLSEN to your post:

o   Our silence is LOUD!

o   I’m staying silent on GLSEN’s Day of Silence, a national youth movement highlighting the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.

o   Nearly 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive representation in their curriculum, nearly 9 in 10 experience verbal harassment, and almost a third miss school because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

  • At 4pm, “Break the Silence!”

o   By answering the prompt, I AM BREAKING THE SILENCE BY…?

  • Submit to PRISM for a re-post:
  • DM PRISM (@umwprism) with your story
  • Email PRISM (umwprism@gmail.com) with your story
  • Your name will not be shared through the repost nor will you be tagged. However, pictures and/or videos are not private if we repost them.
  • Post your response to your social media account, if it is a safe space for you to do so.

o   Follow PRISM (@umwprism) on Instagram to view submitted prompt responses.

In keeping with our values outlined in ASPIRE, join us in celebrating the 25th Annual Day of Silence.

People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual and Gender Minorities (PRISM)
Center for Prevention and Education
James Farmer Multicultural Center
Office of Title IX
Safe Zone
Talley Center for Counseling Services
Vice President for Equity and Access & Chief Diversity Officer

Information on resources and support can be found on SAFE ZONE’s webpage.

* Day of Silence was first organized by a student at the University of Virginia in 1996 as part of a class project. The following year almost 100 colleges and universities participated, making it a national event. College and university students have driven and participated in many movements throughout history, and the UMW Community is no exception. This includes Day of Silence powered by PRISM, a student-led organization that promotes the values of diversity and acceptance of students of sexual and gender minorities.

In 2000, Day of Silence became an official initiative with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network).

Rape is Still Rape, Even When Consensual Sex Happens Later (The Huffington Post)

Wilson Discusses How Rape Survivors Process Trauma with Huffington Post

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Associate Professor of Psychological Science and Safe Zone Director Laura Wilson discussed how rape survivors process trauma with The Huffington Post, in an article entitled, “Rape is Still Rape, Even When Consensual Sex Happens Later.” The article highlights the testimony of rape survivor Jessica Mann, an actress who testified that she was raped by disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein, and later had a consensual relationship with him.

“I certainly understand that it seems bizarre,” Dr. Laura Wilson, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Mary Washington told HuffPost by phone on Thursday. “But in actuality, when you think about how people respond to victimization it makes a lot of sense.” Wilson, whose research focuses on post-trauma functioning in sexual assault survivors, explained that most survivors don’t initially use the terms “assault” or “rape” to describe what they’ve experienced. Instead, they might conceptualize the assault as “bad sex” or “a miscommunication.” 

Often times, the survivor in this scenario is in an ongoing relationship with an abusive partner, Wilson said. People tend to believe rape is perpetrated by a stranger ― not someone known to the victim like a partner, classmate or colleague. So when sexual violence is perpetrated by someone the survivor knows (which is 80% of the time, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), they often don’t have the correct language to describe the encounter. 

“What we know through research is that people have, what we call, a ‘stereotyped rape script,’” Wilson explained. “What most people assume rape looks like is a strange man raping a woman in a dark alley, there’s typically a weapon involved, and she normally fights back. Anything that doesn’t fit that script, we don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know how to conceptualize it.” Read more.

Spring Safe Zone Events

Safe Zone is excited to announce several upcoming programs, including our Spring Book Club. The UMW Safe Zone program offers programs that are designed to educate members of the University community about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) issues to increase the safety and inclusion of all campus citizens. All of our programs are free and open to all faculty and staff.

  • We will be offering a Basic Safe Zone workshop on Thursday, January 23 from 3:30-6:00pm. This training focuses on terminology, issues related to privilege, increasing awareness and sensitivity, and how to support the LGBTQ+ population on campus. This is an opportunity for any faculty or staff member to become a Safe Zone ally. Space is limited and registration is required. All participants get cool Safe Zone swag!
  • We will be offering an Advanced Safe Zone workshop on Wednesday, January 29 from 3:00-5:30pm. The advanced training is for faculty and staff who have already completed the basic training and covers more complex topics, including bystander intervention. Space is limited and registration is required. All participants get cool Safe Zone swag!
  • Safe Zone is partnering with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board to provide a new training opportunity. Did you know that 66% of UMW students report experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience, such as abuse, family dysfunction or bullying? Research has shown that these types of experiences are associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes later in life. Join us for a workshop on how these types of negative childhood experiences affect our students. This training will be held on Wednesday, February 12 from 3:30-5:30pm, and is open to all faculty and staff. Refreshments will be provided. Space is limited and registration is required.
  • We will be offering our Spring Book Club as a two-part program on Wednesday, February 19 from 5:00pm-6:30pm and Wednesday, February 26 from 5:00pm-6:30pm. We will be reading “A Cup of Water Under My Bed” by Daisy Hernandez. The first 13 people to register get a free book! Plus, all participants get cool Safe Zone swag. Space is limited and registration is required.

If you would like to register for any of these events, please email Laura Wilson at lwilson5@umw.edu. If you would like more information about Safe Zone, to see the list of allies on our campus or access LGBTQ+ inclusion resources, please visit the website at bit.ly/UMWsafezone.

Social Event for LGBTQ+ Identified Faculty and Staff

Safe Zone is excited to announce that we will hold our first ever social gathering for LGBTQ+ identified faculty and staff. Come out to Spencer Devon (106 George St) on Thursday, December 12th at 4pm to make new friends and spend time with wonderful people you already know! This will be an informal gathering so feel free to come whenever you would like. We would love to see you! Please email Laura Wilson at lwilson5@umw.edu with any questions.

Stronger, more unified, survivors face risks and move forward after Tree of Life tragedy (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Wilson Speaks with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tree of Life Anniversary

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Laura Wilson, associate professor of psychology

Associate Professor of Psychological Science Laura Wilson, an expert on the psychological effects of traumatic events, spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the first anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting, in an article entitled “Stronger, more unified, survivors face risks and move forward after the Tree of Life tragedy.”

Wilson said “the responses of members of the three congregations who worship at Tree of Life, as well as a growing sense of unity, don’t surprise her.”

“It’s a common reaction we see. There is a long-term impact on psychology but what we see often is that people feel greater unity and are proud of their community when shootings target one group. It’s a way people collectively cope afterward.” Read more. 

The teens of TikTok are taking on school shootings (Fox 40, WICZ; News 3, WTKR)