By Layne Wells ‘19
tw: sexual assault, rape, domestic violence
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “the month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence,” (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). April 2016’s unique theme, “Prevention is Possible” reflects lessons expressed in Claremont’s own Teal Dot training from empathetic conversation strategies to bystander intervention.
Last April, USA Today published a list entitled, “5 Ways to Participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” which included the following: peer-to-peer discussions; campus demonstrations; watch, listen, and discuss; engage online; don’t stop [raising awareness]. This year, the Claremont Colleges, thanks to college-specific Advocacy groups such as the EmPower Center, participated in all the events on the short-list (and then some) during Consent Week (April 25-29, 2016).
This week was dedicated especially to survivors and their allies. On their event page, the Advocates wrote, “while this week is mainly for survivors of sexual, domestic, and intimate partner violence, we encourage all to take this opportunity to show support for the survivors in your life. This week is inclusive to survivors of all genders and sexual orientations.”
The week began on April 22, 2016, at the EmPOWER Center, which hosted The Clothesline Project for survivors and allies. The Clothesline Project (CLP) is a program started on Cape Cod, MA, in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. It is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.
The 7C Clothesline Project is co-hosted by Scripps College Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, the EmPOWER Center. The event focused group energy on emotional and spiritual restoration of the victims, catering to their needs, as was noted in the Facebook event description. “Keeping with the history of the Clothesline Project, we hope to provide survivors of violence and abuse, as well as their friends and loved ones, a safe way to break the silence about their experiences, and to educate others about the realities of sexual violence in our community. The shirt decorating event provided be a safe, survivor-centered space with Advocates available to provide support.” Shirt decorating supplies were provided, including shirts organized by color depending on the subject reflected, with red, pink, and orange representing rape/sexual assault, gray standing for friends, family, and loved ones, and so on.
The Pomona Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault hosted an event each day from community forums to film screenings, culminated in the Take Back the Night walk on Friday evening. The march began at the 7C EmPOWER Center at 7:30 and traversed all colleges in the Claremont Consortium. The night ended with the Diva Dance, co-hosted by the Motley.