Updated: Oct 5, 2018
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time that is dedicated to the national campaign that guides communities on how to prevent sexual assault and aides in facilitating conversation on the topic along with presenting some eye-opening statistics. It is shocking that every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted and that 1 in 6 American women have been a victim of attempted or completed rape (14.8% complete 2.8% attempted), and 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted. It is important to note that 48% of the time when women are raped, that it occurs in their own home (Rainn.org). Consequently, it is essential to listen to these victims and know that they are heard and that their well-being is truly cared about.
This month, Joe’s PEERS has organized several events wherein they have talked about the importance of believing survivors and helping them handle/cope with what has happened to them. They continue to stress the importance of safe sex practices, as seen in their event last Friday (April 20th), where Joe’s PEERS members passed out bags with candy, condoms, and other resources pertaining to safe sex practices on campus. In addition, the organization has been working to spread word on where different resources are available on campus, the topic of toxic masculinity, and gender relations.
On Wednesday of this week (April 25th), Walk a Mile in Her Shoes began at Havener around 5:30 PM and lasted about a half an hour - ending at 6PM. During this time, men and other willing participants wore high heels and walked a mile around campus to promote the conversation about sexual violence toward women and how alcohol can affect an intimate interaction or relationship. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the event was fun and light hearted, but most importantly, started dialogue on a difficult and ‘triggering’ subject.
When asked about how to start the conversation on sexual assault, Joe’s PEERS member, Andrew Huckla, explained that, “I feel like this is an ugly topic that does not get talked about enough. My hope is that through events like the ones we have put on this month, we can start to get people talking about how serious of an issue this really is and how many people it affects.”
If your friend ever experiences domestic or sexual abuse or violence, the most important thing you can do is to be a true friend. Make sure they know that you are there for them, and believe them. Most likely, they will be scared and possibly in shock. If they are in shock, it can make remembering the event difficult. It is important for you to make sure they know it is not their fault, especially if alcohol was involved. What can also be very difficult is trying to get your friend to talk to someone about the event. Talking to Title IX or counseling might “make it real,” or they just want to forget about it and move on with their lives. There is no rush in recovery, and it does not give the victim any real closure or help them recover from what has happened to them. The Title IX staff and the counselors are trained to help them in the ways that we, as friends and peers, cannot. It is our part to help get them there, actively seeking and accepting help.
If you are a woman interested in self-defense techniques and tips that put you in control, head to the First United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 21st from 1PM to 3PM for the T.A.K.E. Defense training. This event is being hosted by Sigma Phi Epsilon and Miner Wellness and is free for all women with the funds that were raised through Sexual Assault Awareness Week.
The official website for SAAM: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam
At S&T, victims can find help at Title IX and counseling services. Title IX is located in 203 Centennial and Counseling is in 204 Norwood.