Researchers at the University at Buffalo are developing a new training program teaching female friends to protect each other from sexual assault.

UB received a $649,000 grant to develop the program.

National data shows one in five women will experience unwanted sexual contact while attending college. Nearly half of those sexual assaults involve alcohol during social settings or at parties.

The program would provide training for pairs of female friends to learn how to diffuse potentially threatening situations. Each pair would get individualized training tailored to them.

“For example, how do you know when your friend doesn’t want this attention from this guy, how do you know when she’s starting to try to get away from him or he’s bothering her, how do you know when she’s gone off some place?  This particular intervention is really focused around that part of women protecting themselves, potential victims protecting themselves from perpatration, but that’s only really half the story of course,” said Dr. Jennifer Read, University at Buffalo Professor and director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Read says researchers are currently developing intervention for the first phase of the project.  The second phase will use the intervention and apply it to focus groups. She hopes when the program is finalized, it can be rolled out on all college campuses.

UB senior, Kennedy Colon, told News 4 she hopes this new training will cut back on sexual assaults on campus.

“There’s been certain situations that I’ve been in and my friends have been like around guys that have been doing that with them and I’ve had to go save them so I think if we had real training and everyone was on alert, we’d have less cases,” said Colon.

Some UB students say they’re eager to be a part of this training program, but they also want to see training for men to help educate all genders on how to prevent sexual assault.

 “Well I think that a lot of men would be interested in it because they don’t want themselves to get in trouble and they also want to look out for their female students as well,” said UB student, Tanner Bryan.