In its 14th year, Western Kentucky University offices and local sexual trauma recovery center, Hope Harbor, Inc., plan Sexual Assault Prevention Month activities in April for students and community members to learn more about sexual assault and how to prevent it - this time reinforcing the message, This is for All of Us.
Beginning with the virtual kickoff and proclamation signing on Thursday (April 1) delivered by WKU President Timothy C. Caboni, WKU Counseling Center Director Dr. Peggy Crowe and Hope Harbor Executive Director Melissa Whitley, events will continue all month with events taking place online and in-person. The virtual kickoff and proclamation signing will premiere on the Western Kentucky University, WKU Counseling Center, and Hope Harbor Facebook pages at 2 p.m. CDT Thursday.
“With society today being so chaotic and not knowing what the next day might bring, messages about sexual assault are even more crucial,” said WKU Sexual Assault Services Coordinator Elizabeth Madariaga. “Understanding consent and boundaries, respect, rape culture, resources and humanizing the existence of victimization is long overdue. These events can help to create a safe space of talking and learning about these topics while challenging ourselves to do better, to be better and to understand it is for all of us.”
Keeping with the theme, This is for All of Us, activities during the month focus on how each person can play a role in bringing awareness to sexual assault or helping to prevent an incident. Some activities are designed to create spaces for specific audiences to engage in more in-depth conversation and learning.
According to AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, 26.4% of female and 6.8% of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. The 2015 edition of the same report showed that 21% of transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming individuals have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males. These nationwide statistics serve as a foundation for SAPM events and resource sharing in April.
On April 6, Advocacy is for All of Us, a virtual event, walks students through how to help prevent a sexual assault and advocate for survivors. On April 8, Respect is for All of Us, creates an online space designed for college men - but open to all students - to discuss sexual violence, how to intervene as a bystander and support someone who has experienced an assault. On April 16, Empowerment is for All of Us provides an in-person space designed for college women - but open to all - to become comfortable with their own bodies and discuss ways to advocate against harm to themselves or others. This event includes mindfulness yoga and other interactive conversation and activities.
Students are invited to participate in the Deliberative Dialogue also on April 16 titled, Stonewalling Our Legacy: LGBTQ+ Community - Safety, Security, and Policies. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup will dive into the way local laws, university policies, and procedures impact the LGBTQ+ community.
On April 13, the Till it Happens Live Exhibit will fill the center of campus with messages that bring awareness to sexual assault. The live exhibit taking place near Centennial Mall on the Downing Student Union Courtyard will feature students, staff and faculty in a silent display. Volunteers can register to participate at www.wku.edu/heretohelp/sapm. In addition to the live exhibit, anyone can visit the Ink Exposed: A Healing Journey exhibit in the Intercultural Student Engagement Center’s gallery in DSU 2041. The exhibit features tattoos and stories from survivors.
All are welcome to join in the collection drive and fundraising events for Hope Harbor, Inc. The Support a Survivor collection drive takes place from April 1 through April 19 with the goal of collecting 60 adult coloring books, journals, crayons or colored pencils. In addition, the annual Take Back the Night event encourages survivors, advocates, and supporters to Take Back the Night with their own walk/march. Participants are asked to walk two miles between now and April 22 in honor of Take Back the Night and ending sexual violence.
Students across campus will bring awareness during the month on social media platforms for the WKU, WKU Counseling Center and Hope Harbor. Follow Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for messages from WKU students that raise awareness and discuss prevention. In addition, the committee asks that supporters wear teal each Monday in April and post to social media.
“The ongoing partnership between Hope Harbor and Western Kentucky University honors our commitment to make the community and campuses safer through education, resources and dialogue,” Whitley said. “While it is important to recognize April as Sexual Assault Prevention Month, our work to end sexual violence and support survivors continues throughout the year.”
Those who want to access resources can learn more by visiting the WKU Counseling Center located in Potter Hall 409 or online at www.wku.edu/heretohelp. Hope Harbor services include a 24/7 hotline, medical and legal advocacy, counseling, and prevention education within our community. Learn more at hopeharbor.net.
The Sexual Assault Prevention Month planning committee consists of WKU Counseling Center, Hope Harbor, WKU Health Education & Promotion, WKU Office of Student Conduct, WKU Housing & Residence Life and WKU University Marketing. Additional support comes from WKU PBS, WKU Intercultural Student Engagement Center, WKU Department of Counseling & Student Affairs, WKU Social Work and WKU WellU.
For a full list of events happening during the month along with date and time details to register for events, visit www.wku.edu/heretohelp/sapm.