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“It’s Time…To Talk About It!: Your voice. Our future. Prevent sexual violence,” is the theme of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an initiative organized locally by the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) in collaboration with other campus and community organizations.
Although April is recognized nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this is a critical issue year-round, according to Karla Miller, RVAP director.
This was recently made clear by University of Iowa President Sally Mason, who unveiled a Six-Point Plan to Combat Sexual Assault, president.uiowa.edu/six-point-plan. As part of the plan, the university is gathering the names of nominees for a student advisory group on the issue, and last Friday unveiled a second, new Nite Ride van, which provides women with free rides during late-night hours seven days a week.
“During this month—as well as year-round—we want to honor victims/survivors, educate more people, and encourage increased commitment and activism on all levels of society to address sexual assaults and related infractions and crimes,” Miller says. “We also want to assist those affected by sexual violence and harassment, and to make sure that perpetrators pay the appropriate consequences for their actions.”
Mary Perdomo, an RVAP education coordinator, adds that each year, organizers strive to add new activities to the month to educate as many people as possible.
“This month is very important because not only can we raise awareness about this kind of violence, but we can also honor the victims and survivors throughout a whole month,” Perdomo says. “With individual events we can reach more people who are interested in the issue, but with a full month of events we can target several populations.“
This video, specially edited for use by WRAC staff for use on the UI campus, is currently used in bystander intervention training programs for students.
There are several new events this year including a “Be a Part of the Solution: Bystander Intervention Skills Workshop” Wednesday, April 9, from 2 to 4:15 p.m. in Room W401 of the UI Pappajohn Business Building. Though the workshop is free and open to the public, pre-registration is required. Those interested can register online.
The Bystander Intervention Skills Workshop is presented by the UI Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC) and hosted by the UI School of Social Work. To sign up for future trainings, contact WRAC Director Linda Kroon at 319-335-1486.
Another new event is a Community Summit on Sexual Assault being held Saturday, April 12, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, hosted by the UI Department of Communication Studies.
The summit will highlight local efforts to end sexual assault within the community, amplifying the voices of survivors, advocates, and activists. The event will feature six speakers who will speak briefly on the work they do and its importance. The final hour is dedicated to community questions and conversation, and provides an ideal forum for discussion and action.
Panelists include the following: Georgina Dodge, UI chief diversity officer, associate vice president, and UI Title IX coordinator; Kelly Gallagher, activist with ROAR: Radicals Organizing Against Rape; Laurie Haag, program developer for the UI Women’s Resource and Action Center; RVAP's Perdomo; Hieu Pham, multilingual advocate and outreach coordinator with Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa; and Pamela Terrill, sexual assault nurse examiner, UI Hospitals and Clinics.
Another new initiative is the Bandana Project, which was launched by Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center in June of 2007 as a part of its national initiative to end workplace sexual violence against migrant farm women. These bandanas are hung in a public place to raise awareness about this serious problem.
The Bandana Project will be displayed along with the Clothesline Project, which is a collection of T-shirts decorated in honor of victims and survivors of all genders who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and homicide. Both projects will be on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, on the UI Pentacrest lawn.
Following are other activities planned for the month:
- April 1-30: How Do You Ask?” Stop by displays throughout April to sign a pledge to Ask for consent. Play Jeopardy for a chance to win giveaways (while supplies last). There will also be Bar Posters at bars downtown, and people are encouraged to be on the lookout in bar bathrooms in April for posters featuring the message “Using alcohol to get sex is RAPE.” RVAP and the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team are sponsoring the posters.
- April 1: “It’s time ... to talk about it” National Day of Action. People are encouraged to change their Facebook/Twitter profile picture to one of themselves holding a clock. They can supply a couple lines of text explaining that it’s time for their friends to “talk about sexual assault,” “get involved,” or “support a friend.”
- April 1: A presentation will be given titled “Sexual Assault: Why?” at the Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room A, at 6 p.m., which will explore the origins of sexual assault activism.
- April 2: “How Do You Ask?” information tables at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City, from noon to 1 p.m. Students can stop by to get brochures, information, sign a plea for asking for consent and get souvenirs. (for UI students only.)
- April 3: Clothesline Project by RVAP South at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
- April 4: Silent Witness for Anti-Street Harassment Days of Action, noon to 1 p.m., People can come stand in silence to protest against street harassment (e.g., catcalling, slurs, etc.). Meet on Clinton Street across from the entrance to the Old Capitol Town Center in Iowa City at 11:30 a.m. to get T-shirts for the event at noon.
- April 7: “All About Perpetrators: Typologies and Tools” at Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room A, at 6 p.m. This presentation will provide insights into the types of perpetrators of sexual assault and their motivations, as well as ways for people to protect themselves from cyber-stalking, a common tool used by offenders, and its consequences. Miller, and Linda Kroon, UI Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) director, will give this presentation.
- April 9: “How Do You Ask?” information tables at UI Burge Residence Hall, noon to 1 p.m. (for UI students only).
- April 16: “How Do You Ask?” information tables at UI Mayflower Residence Hall, noon to 1 p.m. (for UI students only).
- April 16: Clothesline Project by RVAP South at Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa.
- April 23: “How Do You Ask?“ information tables at the Iowa River Room, Iowa City, noon to 1 p.m. (for UI students only).
- April 23: International Denim Day Wear jeans on this day as a symbol of protest of harmful attitudes about rape after an Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore jeans. The justices reasoned that the victim must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, implying her consent.
- April 24: Take Back the Night: This march starts at 6 p.m. at the UI Pentacrest lawn, in support of survivors and symbolically making the night safer. The event—which features speakers and other activities—is co-sponsored by RVAP and WRAC.
In addition to RVAP and WRAC, the UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, the UI School of Social Work, the UI Department of Communication Studies, UI Student Health, and the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team help coordinate events during the month and provide resources and support year round.
RVAP is a comprehensive sexual abuse response center based in Iowa City that provides support, information, and advocacy to members of the UI community and citizens of the following areas: Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Johnson, Lee, Van Buren, and Washington counties.
Following are RVAP Sexual Abuse Hotlines: The local, 24-hour Rape/Sexual Abuse Crisis Line is 319-335-6000 for Cedar, Iowa, Johnson and Washington Counties; the 24-hour S.E. Regional Sexual Abuse Hotline is 1-800-228-1625; and the 24-hour Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline is 1-800-284-7821.
Business lines are as follows:RVAP Office Business: 319-335-6001; Des Moines County (Burlington) Business Line: 319-541-9554; Henry County (Mt. Pleasant) Business Line is 319-541-9809; and Lee and Van Buren Counties (Fort Madison, Keokuk, and Keosauqua) Business Line is 319-541-0963.
All events are free and open to the public. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in any of these activities or events, contact RVAP in advance at 319-335-6001. UI residence hall programs are limited to students only.