Speaking on bullying awareness

Seeking the proper help can seem like the end of the world for certain students, but sometimes it can help in unexpected ways.

Two guest speakers from California State University, Northridge’s Strength United visited Pierce Wednesday in the Great Hall from 2-3 p.m. to talk about bullying and sexual violence awareness.

Their presentation on the Psychology of Trauma and Where to Get Help explained multiple ways trauma exists and the definition of consent.

Josue Vega is an outreach specialist with Strength United and was one of the main guest speakers.

“We are off campus. We are a charter organization run through CSUN but we also work in partnership with other agencies, so even though we are CSUN affiliated we aren’t CSUN directly,” Vega said.

He said they do outreach at College of the Canyons, Mission College, Pierce and many other community colleges within the San Fernando Valley. Vega said the organization has a 24/7 response team and they treat every case seriously.

“It is mostly the advocacy and case management,” Vega said. “We will take cases and then our case managers will refer the person to services and make sure once they are through with the therapy they can be connected to outside resources for continued care.”

Vega said this is not the first time Strength United has visited Pierce.

“We actually worked here with the Athletics department,” Vega said. “There was a grant funded through NFL to reduce the instances of sexual violence among student-athletes. That was two years ago.”

Strength United’s mission is “ending abuse, empowering families and developing leaders.” They offer case management and counseling services to students throughout the San Fernando Valley.

“We do provision outreach, but that is requested by people. If someone requests, we will bring our presentations up to them,” Vega said.

Andrea Ramos is an intern with Strength United and has been interning for about three months and says she loves having the position.

“Everyone in there is so high energy and very loud,” Ramos said. “We just love what we do. Everyone that I work with, when it comes to the prevention center or IT, everyone is involved and so intertwined working with each other so it’s like a family.”

She said Strength United has been around since around 1984 and aims to strengthen communities through mental-health knowledge and assistance.

“This is a safe space and we are not going to tolerate any sexual violence or sexual assault,” Ramos said.

Ramos said she helps out with the programs and is organizing some ideas of her own.

“I’m actually leading a campaign,” Ramos said. “It’s focusing on CSUN but we are getting all of San Fernando Valley involved as well. We are writing love letters to survivors.”

Psychology Club Representative Karol Gutierrez was at the event and helped with the set-up in the Great Hall.

She said said their club president Caroline Padilla helped collaborate to get Strength United to come to Pierce.

“She makes sure we have guest speakers, makes out the events and everything,” Gutierrez said. “So Caroline is the one who brings these events together. If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t have Strength United from CSUN to come over here and talk.”

The Psychology Club meets bi-weekly in Elm Room 1720 Wednesdays from 2-3 p.m. Gutierrez said the Psychology Club disappeared for quite a while and they brought it back up this semester to help students in need beyond learning about how the mind works.

“We actually reach out to people and we can actually change lives. We talk about things and little by little people crack out of their shells,” Gutierrez said.

Only about 20 people showed up to the event, but that did not stop the speakers from presenting their slideshow.

“Bullying and psychological trauma are sometimes very difficult for people to speak out so I understand why we didn’t have that many people but it depends on the individual to participate,” Gutierrez said.

Vega said Strength United will be returning back to Pierce this week to speak during Denim Day.

“We are going to be here next week, we often come here for Denim Day and sexual assault awareness week,” Vega said.

Strength United’s referral line is (818) 886-0453 and their crisis response line is (661) 253-0258.