DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program, SHARPP, has received its largest donation to date in the form of a $162,000 check from an anonymous donor.
Previously the largest amount received by the organization was about $1,000.
Just before winter break, the UNH Foundation received the large check from an anonymous donor who asked that the funds be used by SHARPP for use in creating “an environment more inclusive toward male victims” of sexual violence, according to a news release from the university on Wednesday.
According to the university, in the letter accompanying the check, the donor wrote “... a growing body of literature has suggested that the ways in which we measure and define victimization largely impacts the rates of self-reported victimization, potentially leading to an underestimation of the rates of male sexual victimization.”
“Furthermore, many stereotypes exist around male sexual victimization, resulting in a lack of attention and an additional layer of stigma toward male victims,” the letter reads.
Amy Culp, SHARPP’s interim director and direct services coordinator, acknowledged that male victims traditionally receive less support despite the fact that one in seven men have been victims of sexual assault.
“Our data doesn’t reflect that’s who we are serving, and I think that’s across the board at any crisis center because there is a stigma that comes with reporting it, “ Culp said. “The stigma attached with sexual assault is exponentially more for men.”
The university said the donation may help diminish the stigma by allowing SHARPP to reach more men through education and outreach. The money will be used to increase services to men, including outreach and direct service.
While nothing is known about the donor, Culp is speculating that SHARPP may have been chosen to receive the donation because it is ahead in its field.
“SHARPP has a long history of being considered a model crisis center on a college campus. Many colleges and universities still consult with us when they are starting up,” Culp said.
One major difference between SHARPP and some other college crisis centers is that conversations that take place in SHARPP are covered by privileged communication, she said.
The writer also said SHARPP’s existing work within the community has been very impressive.
“... and I am hopeful that this donation can help to further the population that you are able to serve,” the letter reads.
The announcement of the donation comes as President Obama summoned his cabinet Wednesday to review his administration’s efforts to combat sexual assault, with plans to order a new task force focused on sexual assault on college campuses.
A recent report from the White House Council on Women and Girls titled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action” says that one in five college students are sexually assaulted, but just 12 percent report firstname.lastname@example.org