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Spiro's HERO

A federally funded grant program at USM to addresses sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on USM’s campus through prevention and education efforts.

About Spiro's HERO

The Spiro’s HERO project coordinates the university's response to incidents of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking when those incidents involve members of or visitors to the Saint Mary community.

To support social distancing, Spiro's HERO is only on campus part time. Reach out to the Project Director, Elizabeth Gnade, at for referrals to crisis intervention, connecting to support, remote programming, and/or resource referrals. 


Healthy relationships.
Empowered students.
Respectful culture.
Our safe campus.


Want to get involved?

Contact the Elizabeth Gnade, Project Director of the OVW Campus Program, at


Informed by current federal guidance, Spiro’s HERO aims to ensure the university responds promptly and effectively to stop problem behavior, prevent its recurrence, and remedies its effects.

The program provides:

  • Information about university policies and procedures
  • Referrals to campus and community confidential resources and victim advocates
  • Help facilitating accommodations to address safety concerns and support victims or complainants so academic and professional pursuits may continue unimpeded
  • Information to victims and complainants about the process and will work with them to ensure their wishes are understood by the University
  • Leadership to the University’s Coordinated Community Response team to ensure continuous improvement in policies, procedures, and prevention.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Did you know that...

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.

What you can do to help...

  • Reach out. Families who are living with violence are often isolated from friends and extended family. Many children and adults are afraid of asking for help or feel ashamed. They might feel like the violence is their fault. Now is the time for us to reach out. You can let your loved ones know that it is not their fault, and that you are there to listen. Tell them you care about them and want to help in any way you can. You shouldn’t force them to talk to you about the violence, but offering to be there for them right now can go a long way.
  • Send Basic Necessities. If your family members or neighbors need food, transportation or supplies, ask them what they need and help out when you can. You could offer to drop off food or cleaning supplies, send takeout/grocery gift cards or money through cash apps, or give care packages of books, toys, and learning supplies for children. You can also share what you know about local resources, like food bank hours or transportation programs. If you are connected to a neighborhood, faith or other community group, you can offer to connect your loved one or ask for support on their behalf.
  • Interrupt or Intervene. Every situation of violence is different and needs different responses. As friends and family, there are ways we can interrupt or intervene to support our loved ones, even during a pandemic. For example, you and your loved one can agree on a code word that will alert you that they need an interruption from you or an outside intervention from the authorities. One code word could mean “call me now, so I can move to another room.” Another code word could mean “knock on my door now.” A third code word could mean “please call the authorities.” Depending on the situation, any of these things can interrupt violence or child abuse in the moment.
  • Use the Power of your Relationship. If you have a strong and trusting relationship with a person abusing their partner or a child, call them and talk to them about how to handle their behavior. Use this time as an opportunity for real talk and support them in getting help. Ask them if they can work with you to make a behavioral plan and give them local and national helplines they can call to get support.
  • Provide Virtual or Physical Respite. While most of us can’t open our homes to family and friends who are experiencing violence during the pandemic, some of us have extra rooms and spaces we can offer, especially if a parent gets sick and can’t take care of their children. Even if you can’t provide a place to stay, you can still give parents a break for themselves or their kids. Even 30 minutes of downtime each day can be a huge help for someone parenting children who are living with violence at home. You can read children a story over WhatsApp or Facetime every night at 7:00pm, or virtually teach older children how to cook a favorite family meal. You can also find local virtual community entertainment for children, like library story times.
  • Give a "Warm" Referral to a Program. A warm referral means that you are helping to connect someone to a person or program that you yourself have already been in contact with. Most communities have advocates, counselors, attorneys and faith leaders who are working tirelessly to reach survivors during this pandemic. Family and friends can find information by researching programs in the area where they live. You can also call national hotlines that can point you to local resources and help you think about additional ways to support your loved ones. They can also be there for you as a support person.
  • Send Texts, Emails, or Handwritten Notes of Encouragement to Those Who Are Hurting. While we should keep in mind that anything we put in writing can be read by others, we can send notes that remind our friends and family how much they matter to you, and that they are worthy of love and support. Remind them that they are strong and courageous. Share one of your favorite quotes, proverbs, verses or affirmations. Draw a picture for children. Small acts of encouragement can go a long way.
  • Take Care of Yourself, Too. You deserve support too. Worrying about a loved one who is experiencing violence can take a toll on our emotional and physical health, especially when there are so many stressful events going on.

Events for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 9 @ 9-10:30am - MOCSA presents “supporting survivors of sexual abuse and assault through a trauma informed response” Zoom training (email to register)

October 14 @ 11:30am - Domestic Violence Awareness Month recognition - come to the circle and help tie purple ribbons to the trees in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 14 @ 2-3:30pm - MOCSA presents “supporting survivors of sexual abuse and assault through a trauma informed response” Zoom training (email to register)

October 19 @ ? – Who are the Sisters and what do they do? Sister MaryLex, fighting domestic violence on the front lines

October 21 @ 7pm – Mass with Candle Light Vigil for survivors of domestic violence

October 25 – 31 – My Costume is Not my Consent poster and social media campaign

Zoom Background

Right click and save the image to use during your zoom meetups

DVAM USM Zoom Background


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

also known as SAAM

Everything is going digital! Find ways below to show your support through your social media and other digital platforms for survivors of sexual violence.


Download and use one of these backgrounds for your Zoom meetings.



Click on the images to go to a new page will the full size image, then right click to "save as" and then add to your custom virtual background in Zoom.


You can also add a frame to your profile pic on Facebook.

Go to to add a frame to show your support


Check out the IG pages of organizations that focus on helping survivors and take part in their social media challenges! Look for #30DaysOfSAAM for calls to action


Teal is the official color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Wear a teal shirt, headband, etc, paint your face teal! Then take a pic and post it to whichever your preferred social media is and tag it with #SAAM or shout out to the importance of supporting survivors.

OVW Project and Violence Prevention Director

Profile Photo
Elizabeth Gnade
Room 117, Keleher Learning Commons