ATLANTA — Preventing sexual violence is the goal of a unique center opening at Georgia State University.
Behind the scenes, researchers have been working for several months and the university officially announced the new National Center for Sexual Violence Prevention on Wednesday, in connection with GSU's School of Public Health.
They believe it could have a far-reaching impact and is perhaps a first-of-its-kind research center.
"A sense of taking care of one and other, that can actually reduce sexual violence as well as suicide as well as domestic violence, so we are really taking that integrated approach," said Dr. Elizabeth Mosley, a clinical assistant professor at Georgia State University.
She believes the newly founded center could have a ripple effect, though the center will primarily zero in on sexual violence prevention.
The center according to Mosley is already working on several projects, with high-risk groups such as military members, college students, and adolescents.
A federal report from the military found in 2018, 20,000 service members said they were victims of sexual assault that year and sexual assaults increased amongst women by 44%.
"It has certainly been a big push by the Department of Defense both to measure and track sexual violence and to provide that adequate response to survivors but now more they're talking about sexual violence prevention in the military," Mosley said.
GSU's center is now working with the Dept. of Defense to develop a training and education program the military can use in an attempt to eliminate sexual assault within its ranks.
The center was established through the work of Dr. Shannon Self-Brown and Dr. Amanda Gilmore, both of GSU, and made possible by federal funding.
"There has been a heavy emphasis on the response to sexual assault and sexual violence," Mosley said of other programs and organizations that often focus on services for victims of sexual violence. "Of course, that is much needed, but what this center does is really think more upstream about how we can prevent sexual violence."
Thinking upstream is where work to aid adolescents comes in.
As a younger generation's minds are being developed, GSU is researching the impact of using teen's primary care doctor visits to approach topics and develop positive social norms and attitudes toward alcohol and drug use, as well as sexual consent.
Those are two of the projects already underway, with several more also in the planning stages.
"Georgia State has been a leader in sexual violence research for decades now and so it is really just an opportunity to sort of bring all of those efforts together in a centralized space and really work together to focus on this issue," Mosley added.