In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the University Program Board (UPB) at Illinois State University will hold Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Advocating for Survivors from 7-9 p.m., Thursday in the first floor of the Bone Student Center.
The free event will provide resources to those who know survivors of sexual assault. The goal is to educate on the importance of advocating for survivors. A speaker from YWCA will discuss rape trauma syndrome and its importance in discussions of sexual assault.
“The event serves as a way for folks who are friends, loved ones or family of survivors of sexual assault to be better equipped with the language they might need or the resources they might need,” UPB’s Enrichment Chairperson Cass Winters said.
Art, poetry and other works created by survivors on campus will also be on display. To conclude the event, a video campaign by on-campus activists will be played.
Winters adds that often during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the focus is on giving support to survivors. They add that there tends to be a lack in giving people the tools to give support to these survivors. The event hopes to equip people with the resources and tools they need to support others.
“You never know when you’re going to have an interaction with somebody who has experienced sexual assault,” Winters said. “[It’s important] to be equipped with the language and the tools to help that person.”
On college campuses, sexual assault happens at a much higher rate. Because of this, the event has an emphasis of the importance of understanding the implications of sexual assault and how it impacts people.
“I hope that folks are taking away a better understanding of what survivors of sexual assault need,” Winters said. “Often times people don’t understand the inner workings of trauma related to sexual assault. I think this event will give people a better understanding of why things happen the way they do during and post an occurrence.”
Criminal Justice Professor Shelly Clevenger will also be putting on an art installation titled “What Were You Wearing” at the event. The art will show different recreations of outfits people were wearing when they were sexually assaulted, with context to the situation.
“This event is a way to kick off the month with an attitude of supporting survivors because that’s what the month is for,” Winters said. “The importance of the month is to give support to survivors of sexual assault and bringing awareness and knowledge to the topic.”