Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Cougar Health Services violence prevention

Real stories of Cougs who take action

Real stories of Cougs who take action

We know Cougs are committed to ending violence in our community. In fact, according to a 2015 campus climate survey, 67 percent of Cougs reported they feel confident in their ability to take action to reduce interpersonal violence.

Today we’re featuring stories of real Cougs who’ve taken action. We hope you’ll enjoy their stories, and more importantly, we hope you’ll be inspired to take action the next time you see potential for violence.

alex-anderson-ctd-post-page“I knew that an acquaintance of mine was having problems with her boyfriend. Specifically, I knew that he would get violent with her while he was drinking. Not wanting to pressure her into anything, I made sure she had the contact information for ATVP and CAPS as well as the information of where she could report the incident if that was what she decided she wanted to do.” – Alex Anderson, WSU Senior, Class of 2017



“The last time I visited my home town in western Washington, I had a conversation about violence with my friends and family. I talked about statistics, barriers to intervening, as well as how to be an active, Green Dot bystander when someone is in need. Now they have talked about it with their friends and families, too, increasing the number of green dots as well!” – Kyle Murphy, WSU Senior, Class of 2017



“I think education is key when it comes to being a proactive bystander. Being a part of ASWSU and It’s on Cougs, a campaign to create awareness about sexual assault on campus, I have helped put on many events that inform students by creating an inclusive environment so each person has the ability to help make WSU a safe campus.” – Colleen McMahon, WSU Junior, Class of 2018


“I was walking home late at night with my roommate when we saw someone who was drunk fall down and they scraped their leg open on the sidewalk.  Another student walked up and helped the drunk person off the sidewalk and said ‘don’t worry, baby, I’ll get you home safe tonight.’ My roommate and I felt uncomfortable about the comment so on the count of three we yelled out ‘GREEN DOT!’ The second we did, the person who made that comment threw their hands into the air and said ‘whoa, I’m sorry, I was just kidding, I’m really not doing anything bad, I’m just trying to help!’ All it took was two seconds for us to do something to make sure that person wasn’t going to harm another student.” Anonymous

Just like the Cougs featured here, we can all work together to prevent violence.  When more Cougs take action, less violence happens.

You can take action to prevent violence right now. Sign up to join us for a bystander training, or stay connected by subscribing to receive news and updates about violence prevention at WSU.

Everyone can do something

Everyone can do something

Preventing interpersonal violence like sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence can seem overwhelming. But it becomes a lot easier if we all work together. One person can’t do everything, but everyone can do something!

We can all take action to prevent violence in our everyday lives. By simply showing that Cougs care for one another and our community, we can help reduce violence on our campus and in our community.

Hanging out with friends or heading to a party? Here are some things you can do to take action and make sure you and your friends stay safe.

  1. Charge your phone before going out. Make sure you’ve got enough battery life to stay in contact with your group throughout the night.
  2. Check in. Plan to have everyone check in with another group member before leaving the party. If someone doesn’t check in, call or text to make sure they’re okay.
  3. Take action. If you see someone making another person feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe, it’s hard to know what to do. It can be even harder to intervene if your friend is the one pushing someone’s boundaries. If you don’t feel comfortable directly calling the person out, you could try distracting them with another topic or activity.
  4. Make a back-up plan. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Talk as a group about assigning a designated driver for the night. In case that doesn’t work out, save a number for a cab company in your phone and make sure everyone keeps a little cash on hand to pitch in for a cab.
  5. Pace yourself. If you choose to drink, don’t let drinking too much get in the way of enjoying your night out. Make sure to eat a full meal before going out, or eat snacks throughout the night. You can also alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  6. Listen to your gut. If you see or hear something that makes you uncomfortable, take a second look and check in. Even if it’s a false alarm, simply asking someone “are you okay?” can help you make sure the night is enjoyable for everyone.
  7. Delegate. If you see a potentially violent situation developing and you’re not sure how to intervene, ask someone else to step in. This can be another friend, an RA, a bouncer or even the police.

When other people see you taking everyday small actions to take to care of others, they’re more likely to do the same.

To prevent violence at WSU, we need Cougs to stay involved. You can subscribe to receive the latest events, news and information on ending violence.

Understanding gender-based violence

Group of students hugging

It’s important to talk about violence because it can happen to anyone. Violence impacts students of all sexes, races and ethnicities. Victims and perpetrators can be people of any gender. And violence can happen in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships.

Gender-based violence includes intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual assault. Sometimes these types of violence are hard to spot. Understanding them can help us identify violence and respond. By learning more about violence, we can all help create a safer campus community and ensure every student has a healthy and safe experience at WSU.

Intimate partner violence is when someone uses power to gain or maintain control over another person. Intimate partner violence can take on many names – dating violence, domestic violence and partner violence – but it’s all the same thing: a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship. Many people initially think of physical abuse. But intimate partner violence can include emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.

Someone who is trying to gain or maintain power and control over their partner might minimize the abuse and that person’s response to it. They might say things like “you’re being too sensitive,” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” In 2015, 7.7 percent of Cougs said they were in an emotionally abusive intimate relationship in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Some examples of intimate partner violence include:

  • Threats or intimidation
  • Possessiveness
  • Harassment
  • Humiliation
  • Limiting independence
  • Isolation

Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment or any other course of conduct that causes a reasonable person to feel afraid. People are most likely to be stalked by someone they know, such as a friend, current or former partner, acquaintance, or someone they met online. 3.9 percent of Cougs reported being stalked in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Some examples of stalking include:

  • Repeated/unwanted emails, texts, phone calls, DMs
  • Showing up where someone is because they know that person’s schedule
  • Monitoring emails, texts, phone calls, social media accounts
  • Sending unwanted gifts to someone
  • Contacting or posting about someone on social media
  • Using friends and/or family to get information about someone

Sexual assault is any sexual activity lacking consent. 9 percent of Cougs reported being touched sexually without their consent in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Sexual assault includes a wide range of behaviors such as:

  • Any non-consensual physical contact
  • Sharing nude photos
  • Filming someone
  • Groping, touching
  • Making sexual comments (incl. catcalling, sexting, comments on social media)
  • Attempted or completed rape

As Cougs, we play an active role in helping reduce violence on our campus. And we want to support our friends when they reach out to us for help.

If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, there are a number of confidential and non-confidential resources on campus and in the community that can help. The Office for Equal Opportunity can help with implementing personal safety measures and/or making a report.

WSU doesn’t tolerate any forms of violence. If you experience any of these forms of violence, know that it’s not your fault, and we’re here to help.

WSU’s ACHA-NCHA statistics are comparable to universities nationwide. If you want more information on statistics pertaining to gender-based violence, ACHA has a position statement which includes nationwide figures.

Do you want more information on how to make our campus safer? Sign up to receive the latest news and updates on how we can end violence in our community.

Parents: Talk to your student about relationships

Dad and son talking

We strive to educate our students about violence prevention, but this is something we cannot do alone. We need parents, caregivers and mentors to join conversations about violence prevention and healthy relationships. We need your help.   

You may be surprised to learn that teens rely on parents, rather than friends, for guidance about these issues. We encourage you to have open conversations with your student—regardless of their gender—about dating, sexual relationships, healthy boundaries and consent. The key is to let your Coug know they can always come to you if they have questions or need support.

If you’ve already had conversations about healthy relationships with your student, we encourage you to continue.  For many, having these conversations isn’t easy and we recognize that.  It can be difficult and sometimes awkward to talk with your student about violence prevention and relationships.  But we promise it’s absolutely worth it.

To get the conversation started, keep it simple:

  • Look for opportunities to weave topics of sex, gender, dating and communication into everyday conversations. You could talk about a TV show, news story or blog post that relates to these topics, and ask your student what they think about it.
  • Talk about consent, and the university’s definition of consent in sexual interactions.
  • Reinforce that Cougs take action when they see someone in a risky situation or someone who needs help.
  • Talk about values your family shares, and what these look like in dating and sexual relationships.
  • Review WSU’s policy prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
  • Ask about the Safety on Campus workshop your student attended during Alive!
  • Talk about boundaries, and let your student know that no one has the right to push them further than they want.

Even though your student is now an adult and has moved away to college, you still play a vital role in influencing them to make healthy decisions throughout life.

By educating yourself about this important issue, you will be better prepared should your student ever come to you asking questions about how to handle a particular situation.  Visit to learn more about the university’s process for handling instances of gender-based violence.

Get involved to help stop violence


When thinking about violence happening in the world, or in your own community, have you ever thought, “I’m just one person. What can I possibly do?” At the Violence Prevention Programs office at Health & Wellness Services, we have a simple answer to that question – just do something!

Our team believes students are the key to preventing violence on campus. We work with exceptional student leaders who have a passion for making our campus safer. Our graduate assistant Amber Morczek and student employee Janille Lowe recently won Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards for their community service efforts around campus. Amber, a graduate student in Criminal Justice and Criminology, was recognized for her teaching, research, student activism, and volunteer work.

Janille, an undergraduate student double-majoring in Criminal Justice and Criminology and Psychology, was recognized as a member of WSU’s Queer People of Color and Allies, an organization working to create communities of support for queer people of color at our university. In addition to the wonderful work they’re doing around campus, Janille and Amber spend time in our office answering phones, greeting visitors, serving as representatives on university committees and giving presentations in classrooms and to student groups.

We’re always looking for more exceptional students to join our team! Volunteers help staff our office, set up for presentations and events, serve on student committees and engage in thoughtful conversations about keeping our campus safe. No experience is necessary to volunteer with our program. We are looking for students who are willing to participate in honest and open conversations about supporting victims and preventing violence. Our volunteers gain leadership and communication skills and make connections with others who share their interests.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering, contact Nikki at