By Ben Macintosh
Eileen Conboy, sexual violence prevention and response coordinator (Photo credits: UPEI)
Sexual violence is never an easy topic, but it is Eileen Conboyâ€™s job to talk about it.
She has been the sexual violence prevention and response coordinator at UPEI since the position was created in November. Her role is to support staff, faculty, students and contracted employees who have had experience with sexual violence and help them find the resources they need.
Conboy says working with victims of sexual violence can be difficult, but the people she works with make it worthwhile.
â€œI get so inspired by the people I work with and I see their resilience,â€ she said.
Before starting the position at UPEI, she worked for the PEI rape and sexual assault centre for four years.
When the job opening appeared at UPEI, Conboy thought it would be a good opportunity.
â€œI decided it would be neat to get a bit further upstream of the things that I was seeing in my practice,â€ she said.
â€œBecause a big component of my role here is prevention.â€
Conboy added that when she first started counselling students at Carleton University, sexual violence was an area she was not as comfortable with as she is now.
â€œItâ€™s been really eye opening and kind of opened a passion that I never knew I had,â€ she said.
While many students may not be a direct victim of sexual violence, Conboy feels it is a prevalent issue in our society.
â€œThe reality of the situation is because of the prevalence of sexual violence, weâ€™re all touched in one way or another. Weâ€™re all affected,â€ she said.
As the first sexual violence prevention and response coordinator, Conboy feels increasing visibility of her office is big first step. She also started an advisory committee to assist her with prevention work.
Collaborating with the student union for the â€œJust Check Inâ€ campaign was part of raising awareness for the work Conboyâ€™s office. She plans to continue working with students, naming Halloween as the next event.
â€œYou can expect to see some promotion and some awareness highlighted around that.â€ she said.
During the â€œJust Check Inâ€ campaign, Conboy said her displays in the student union building received more interest than she anticipated.
â€œI had more people stop by than I expected, so that was a welcome surprise,â€ she said. â€œI had some really fruitful discussions.â€
Conboy also plans to be involved with the health and fitness week and the love and sex week as part of raising awareness for her office throughout the year.