Virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Honoring + Believing Survivors’ Stories (Week 3) Round-Up

In the absence of physical space to learn, create, and come together, the Women’s Center is taking Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 2020 online. Each week during April, we will focus on a specific topic/theme as it relates to sexual violence awareness and prevention (see image below). Together, via out social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we can watch videos, read articles, and engage in other content for learning and skill-building.

UMBC’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month online calendar includes weekly themes to help explore important concepts related to sexual violence awareness and prevention.

Were you taking a break from social media last week? That’s great! But it doesn’t mean you have to miss anything. In addition to posting on social media throughout the month, at the end of each week, we’ll provide a round-up of all the content we shared along with some action items to consider doing.

We just wrapped up week three of SAAM and spent the last several days discussing the importance of believing and honoring survivors stories through the following content:

1. Have you heard of the Clothesline Project?  Every year students, faculty, and staff  make t-shirts describing their experience with relationship violence and sexual assault. Typically these t-shirts would be hung shoulder-to-shoulder on a clothesline for public viewing, as if the survivors are there themselves, telling us their stories. The Clothesline Project gives voice to the experiences of survivors, victims, family, and friends who have been affected by violence. This year, we are creating a virtual Clothesline Project as a way of continuing to honor survivors stories.  Submissions can be found on our social media.

2. Take Back The Night

Take Back the Night is an annual event that brings awareness to sexual violence and creates public space for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories. It’s something many of us look forward to every year as a time for community, strength, and healing. It would have been held on April 16th.  Although we couldn’t come together in person, we still wanted to honor the stories of survivors at UMBC. Watch this video to learn more.

3. Chanel Miller’s book “Know My Name”

Chanel Miller’s book is a powerful memoir of strength and survival. Read her words and honor her story, and the stories of all survivors. 

Important Take-Away:

Listen to Survivors stories. Without judgement and without questions.

Believe Survivors. No matter what they were wearing, what they were drinking, or what they did afterwards. Believe them. 

Now that you’ve got some good items in your tool kit, what will you do with them? Here’s some Action Items:

  • Watch a movie or TV show centered on survivors’ experiences.  “The Hunting Ground” and “Unbelievable” are unflinching looks into the reality of the sexual assault crisis in the United States. “Nanette” and “Rape Jokes” are hilarious comedy specials that critique rape culture from a survivors perspective. 
  • Listen to Chanel Millers “Give a Damn Speech”. Delivered at the Glamour Woman of the Year awards, her speech is an important reminder to not just believe survivors, but give a damn about them. The speech can be found here.
  • Reflect on how you interact with the survivors in your life. Take what you’ve learned and implement it!

Follow the Women’s Center on myUMBCFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram for SAAM updates and information throughout the month of April. You can also stay up-to-date by following #UMBCsaam 

Throughout this time of distance learning, campus staff are still here and available for support. Do not hesitate to reach out for questions, concerns, or care.

On-Campus Resources Available for Virtual Support: 

To report a complaint of sexual misconduct or discrimination, please submit this online form

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