Blog Celebrating Diversity: Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2022

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What is Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

In April 2022, we celebrate the 21st anniversary of the declaration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). While the first official declaration and observance of this month took place in 2001 by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, advocacy for sexual assault awareness and prevention began decades earlier. White women have always been presented as the faces of the sexual violence prevention movement, but efforts have been led by women of color, namely black women, documented as far back as the 1800s in tandem with anti-violence activism. -slavery and later in the 1940s alongside the civil rights movement. In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments was enacted. Title IX protects against gender discrimination in any educational program that receives federal financial assistance – this includes most colleges and universities. Decades later, the Violence Against Women Act was enacted in 1994 and served as the first formal legislation to protect women from sexual violence. VAWA provides protection for women against domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and harassment. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re celebrating Sexual Assault Awareness Month to remember the hard work of advocates and the progress made over the years to protect people from sexual assault and other forms of violence. sexual.

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Sexual assault is extremely common on college campuses. According to CDC, “more than one in three women has experienced sexual violence involving physical contact in her lifetime”. Sexual assault is not just about white and cisgender women. The CDC has found that one in four men will also experience sexual assault at some point in their life. Black women and women of other marginalized racial identities also experience sexual assault at higher rates than their white counterparts. Additionally, rates of sexual assault tend to be higher for the LGBTQIA+ community – according to national network Rape, Abuse & Incest, 21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) students have been sexually assaulted.

The majority of attempted or completed acts of sexual violence are perpetrated by someone the victim already knows. Despite the prevalence of assaults in college and the fact that the majority of victim-survivors know their attacker, the Department of Justice found that “only 20% of female student victims, ages 18-24, report to police. of the order”. Survivors shared that there are many barriers to reporting, including fear of retaliation from the abuser, fear of not being believed, and self-blame. It is important to keep these statistics and barriers in mind as we work towards better preventive education and better support for survivors.

My story

Trigger alert: sexual assault, rape, violence

I was raped in my off-campus apartment the summer before my freshman year of college. My rapist was a relatively new friend – we had met several times before and he was close friends with my best friend. We had been out with a group of friends and by the end of the night he was in no condition to drive the hour home so I offered to let him crash on my couch so to keep it safe. At that time he had a new girlfriend and I had a girlfriend for three years. When we got back to my apartment, I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and got him some blankets for the couch. I said “good night” to her, closed my bedroom door, put on my fluffy pajamas and fell asleep. An hour later I woke up to find my friend on top of me. Despite my pushing, kicking and screaming, my repeated “STOP” didn’t stop him. It was the worst night of my life. The next morning I had to sit across from him at breakfast with our friend and pretend everything was fine.

Following my aggression, I did not know where to turn. I could barely digest what had happened to me. I was too scared to report the incident to the police. I was already mad at myself and I was afraid that the others would be mad at me too; after all, I was the one who let him into my apartment. I kept asking myself, “Did I provoke him? Did I ask that? Was that something I was saying?”

I kept my aggression to myself for over a year – I didn’t tell my friends, my family…I didn’t even tell my partner. I kept it to myself for so long that it ate away at me little by little. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I finally told my partner and my friends about my assault. I have received nothing but unconditional love and support – for that I am forever grateful, as I know that is not the case for everyone.

Looking back now, I wish I could shake myself to say “You are not to blame if someone else takes advantage of you!” I never reported to the authorities and spent years in therapy working through the aftermath, but I feel like I’m healing every day. I’m beyond lucky to have a support system that listens to me, believes me, and helps me heal.

I am sharing my story publicly in the hope that others who have been assaulted will know: you are not alone, and there are people who believe you and are there to help, support and defend you. . I am also sharing this story in hopes of debunking some of the myths about rape and assault. My attacker wasn’t some creepy guy who jumped out of the bushes – he was my friend and someone I trusted. I was doing him a favor by lending him my couch for the night after he drank too much. I was asleep and wearing fluffy pajamas when he came into my room uninvited. I didn’t ask for it and I had to carry the weight of her decision all my life. Not all victims of assault are survivors, and I am grateful to have survived my experience and to be here to share this story.

As a survivor of sexual assault myself, sexual assault awareness, prevention and support resources are of the utmost importance to me. I celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness Month to encourage more conversations about sexual assault and the multitude of ways it can impact a victim’s life. To all survivors: I hear you, I see you, I believe you. You’re not alone.

Current and upcoming events

  • An Evening with Chanel Miller | Monday, April 11 at 6:00 p.m. | Zoom
    • The CCS community has been invited to join this evening with writer and artist, Chanel Miller, hosted by Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
    • Chanel Miller is a writer and artist. his memoirs, know my namewas a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times book review Notable Book and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Ridenhour Book Prize and California Book Award. It was also a best book of the year in TIME, The Washington Post, Chicago GrandstandNPR and People, among others. She was named a Forbes 30 under 30 and a Time Next 100 winner and was Charm Woman of the Year honored under her pseudonym Emily Doe.
    • Virtual attendance registration is mandatory and can be found here.
  • Manufacture of sexual violence awareness signs and ribbons | Friday, April 29 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Yamasaki building
    • Create your own sign and ribbon to support survivors of sexual assault. Bring your sign to display at the Raise Your Voice & Take Back the Night March concert the next day.
  • Elevate Your Voice Blocking Party | Saturday April 30 at 6 p.m. | Ford Campus Oval
    • Organized by the Student Activities Council, Raise Your Voice is a benefit concert in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Local groups will perform to help raise funds for Avalon Healing Center, a Detroit-based organization that provides comprehensive care and resources for victims of sexual assault. Admission is a suggested $5 donation to support this amazing organization. Additional donations are welcome and will go directly to Avalon Healing.
  • Resume the night walk | Saturday April 30 at 9 p.m. | Start at Ford Campus Oval
    • Take back the night is a national organization dedicated to raising awareness and speaking out against sexual violence. Join us for a march around Midtown to speak out against sexual assault in order to “take back the night”. Bring your signs and your voices!

CCS and Detroit Resources

National resources

Blog Content Sources

  • Coulter, RW, Mair, C., Miller, E., Blosnich, JR, Matthews, DD and McCauley, HL (2017). Prevalence of past-year sexual assault victimization among undergraduate students: Exploring differences and intersections of gender identity, sexual identity, and race/ethnicity. Prevention Science, 18(6), 726-736.
  • Title IX and Sexual Discrimination. US Department of Education: Civil Rights Office. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html

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