This April, Butler students and organizations plan events to spread awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Photo courtesy of Latestly.com.
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April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Sexual Assault Response and Prevention office and the Butler chapter of PA|VE are both hosting events throughout the month to raise awareness and increase prevention efforts.
This year marks the 21st anniversary of SAAM. Activism surrounding the issue of sexual assault began to increase in the 70’s, which brought about more support for survivors and increased awareness.
As more events were organized throughout the month of April, the original week of awareness developed to include the entire month, which led to the official national observance of April as SAAM in 2001.
Butler’s one-woman SARP office is run by Jules Grable, the sexual assault response and prevention specialist. Grable is a victims advocate and is a confidential resource for people who have experiences any form of sexual assault or harrassment.
“I love doing what I can to make our communities a safer place to be,” Grable said. “I love working with survivors and helping them through one of the most difficult times in their lives.”
SARP has hosted, and will continue to host, events throughout the month of April to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault. So far, SARP has hosted a workshop on how sexual violence affects the LGBTQ+ community and a discussion around debunking rape myths and how rape culture can be changed.
On April 20, SARP will host “How to Help a Friend: Sexual Violence Edition” in Jordan Hall 141 from 6 to 7 p.m. and starting at 7 p.m. they will hose an event regarding alcohol and consent.
“A lot of times the first person that a survivor tells, if they respond positively then their healing journey is a little bit easier,” Grable said.
Julia Fryear, a sophomore criminology and sociology combined major, said the alcohol and consent workshop is important for young adults considering sexual assault while under the influence is common on college campuses.
Events are announced on SARP’s Instagram and Twitter pages. The month will wrap up with an episode of the SARP office’s podcast, Actually Love, where they will echo some messages talked about in the Help A Friend workshop.
Grable said it is necessary for Butler students to be aware of sexual assault awareness month because sexual violence is so pervasive in our culture.
“Statistically speaking, one in three women, one in six men, and one in two transgender folks will experience sexual violence in their lifetime,” Grable said. “All those numbers are profound, we all know someone who has been affected by sexual violence in some way or form, and we can all do something.”
In addition to SARP’s programming, Butler’s chapter of the national organization PA|VE also has events to advocate for SAAM.
Isabelle Rojek, a sophomore political science and Spanish double major, is the current president of PA|VE.
“Everything [that we do] falls under the umbrella term of sexual assault awareness,” Rojek said. “We do education around consent culture or rape culture.”
PA|VE works closely with SARP and participates in a lot of its educational programming.
PA|VE put on a solidarity wall event on April 1, where people joined together outside of Starbucks to write messages to sexual assault survivors. PA|VE works with SARP and will be a part of their How to Help a Friend workshop on April 20. A full schedule of events can be found on PA|VE’s Instagram.
Nikki Houck, a sophomore psychology and criminology combined major, and the social media coordinator for PA|VE, said SAAM is important for making students who have experienced sexual assault feel heard.
“We just want to make sure that everyone knows their options,” Houck said. “We want to make sure that people are feeling comfortable enough to get it reported and know that their voices are heard.”
Moreover, sexual violence as a term that encompasses more than just penatrative sex. Rojeck explained that because there are so many different forms and kinds of assault, some people do not even know that they’ve been assaulted until they are educated on the intricacies of sexual violence.
Grable said the most pressing stigma surrounding sexual violence is the false belief that the victim had to have done something to warrant the violence.
“I think one of the harshest ones and most inaccurate ones is that somebody asked for it,” Grable said. “Whether they were drinking too much or they wore a certain type of clothes, that they were flirting a certain kind of way … there is no action that a person can take where the logical consequence is sexual violence … No victim is ever to blame for their own assault.”
The SARP office continues to search for student facilitators for workshops, students to be a part of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force, an Advocacy Fellow, or a Sexy Can I? facilitator. More information is on the SARP office Instagram.