Anonymous donor grants SHARPP unprecedented contribution

By Lily O'Gara
On February 11, 2014

The Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) recently received an unprecedented monetary donation of $162,000. According to Amy Culp, SHARPP's interim director and direct services coordinator, SHARPP was contacted by the anonymous donor's CPA (certified public accountant) just before winter break. The SHARPP staff then worked with the UNH Foundation to accept the donation.  

According to material released by UNH Media Relations in January, the $162,000 donation is the largest in the program's 36-year history. Up until this point, the most significant amount donated was $1,000. Donations mainly come from groups and the profits of annual events, such as the Greek/SHARPP Lip Sync, "The Vagina Monologues" and the Durham Profession Municipal Manager's Association's Annual Floor Hockey tournament.

In a letter accompanying the check, the donor asked that the money be used to create "an environment more inclusive towards male victims' of sexual assault." 

Culp said that SHARPP services have always been available to men, and that the center currently employs five trained male advocates and one male staff back up, who assist in staffing the crisis line. However, few men come forward to seek help. 

"It is not common for men to seek help, especially around these issues where sexual assault and relationship abuse still carries a stigma, so we want to work to reach those men differently," Culp said. 

Statistically speaking, it is estimated that one in seven males in New Hampshire have been the victims of sexual abuse. While SHARPP does assist many men, Culp said that most men seeking services at SHARPP are secondary survivors looking to support their friends, partners or sisters. The center averages one or two primary male survivors each year. 

"We will use the money to enhance our current programming and also to look at ways of developing new programming targeted towards men," Culp said. "We have been in contact with some national programs about possibly coming in to do training."

SHARPP has been widely praised for its innovative work on campus and within the community, and recognized as one of the top preventative and crisis centers in the nation. In 2011, for example, Vice President Joe Biden cited the program's excellence in a campus address. 

The administration is proud of the program's work as well, and confident that the money will be put to good use. 

"We're very pleased that the good work of the university's Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program [SHARPP] has been recognized with this generous donation," Director of UNH Media Relations Erika Mantz said. "Their ability to enhance and increase services for male victims of sexual assault will benefit the entire campus community." 

While SHARPP pursues additional programming for men, the organization will also continue to host the annual White Ribbon Campaign in April, through which men pledge to combat violence against women. SHARPP also offers training for men in becoming more active and engaged participants in ending violence and sexual assault. 

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