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Center expands rape awareness program for teens

Two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. The Rape Crisis Center is looking to empower women so they can avoid becoming a statistic by expanding its Your SPACE program.

The acronym stands for Safety Prevention and Awareness Curriculum for Everyone. The workshops help attendees recognize early signs of being pressured by peers, partners or bullies. “Sexting,” social media and cyber bullying also are covered. Sessions typically last one to four days.

Your SPACE is offered during the school year at Clark County School District middle and high schools, but The Rape Crisis Center is offering summer workshops geared toward teens, part of its effort to expand the program to camps, parks and recreation centers, religious groups and other organizations.

“It’s really aimed at preventing issues like sexual assault and domestic violence and that type of thing before they happen — to reach out to students at a time when they’re starting to have relationships,” said Gabrielle Amato , education and outreach manager at the center.

The program has been in schools since 2006 and is being offered in partnership with S.A.F.E. House, an organization that works to combat domestic violence and offers shelter for battered women and their children.

At schools, Your SPACE is a four-day program, using one class period each day. Facilitators may point out song lyrics or films as examples of relationship violence or misogynistic language or discuss events in the media.

Teacher Jeff Ellis hosts the program for his students at Bailey Middle School, 2500 N. Hollywood Blvd. He estimated that about 500 of his students have participated.

“The kids really enjoy it. They get a lot out of it,” he said , adding that he has arranged for high schoolers in his summer school session to participate . “It’s interesting to see how the two different grade levels respond to the information. They get different things out of it.”

Your SPACE information includes learning the personal bill of rights and setting boundaries. Youngsters are taught that they can disclose information to a trusted adult to seek guidance or help. They learn how interacting with someone close to them is different than with acquaintances.

“If some person was walking down the street and tries to hurt you, you would know right away that that was wrong,” Amato said. “But if someone that you love tries to hurt you, because they’re closer to you, it can be harder to analyze that.”

Your SPACE covers how sexual harassment, stalking and sexual assault can be connected and how a violation of boundaries, such as sexual harassment, can lead to further violation of boundaries and sexual assault. Myths about sexual assault are debunked, and the dangers of drug-facilitated sexual assault are covered.

Students are taught the circle of six concept, securing six trusted contacts who will support them in certain situations, such as being at a party and feeling uncomfortable. Students can text a “save me” message to a circle of six contacts, who can dial the caller’s cellphone , offering an excuse to leave.

The program also covers healthy relationships, with the students defining the term. They talk about making a dating safety plan.

Daniele Dreitzer , executive director of the Rape Crisis Center, said knowledge is power. She also said the Your SPACE program gives students a chance to open up and ask questions.

“Folks are not going to be able to prevent every incident of sexual assault, but there is a lot that we can do,” Dreitzer said.

Groups or individuals interested in scheduling Your SPACE training can call 702-385-2153.

For more information on The Rape Crisis Center , 801 S. Rancho Drive, Suite B-2, call 888-366-1640 or 702-385-2153 or visit The center’s hot line, 702-366-1640, is available 24/7.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.