Virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Centering the Margin: Bystander Intervention and Allyship (Week 5) 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.

SAAM 2020 Online

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

But, we get it… Maybe you’re not on Facebook. Maybe you needed to take a break from social media for the day because you’re practicing self-care. Or maybe, you’re still following us on all the things and still missed a pretty cool post. That’s okay! 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.

This is the last SAAM round-up with April ending last week. To conclude this year’s SAAM, we focused on bystander intervention and allyship. We teamed up with our campus partners supporting the work on UMBC’s Green Dot Program to share helpful resources about bystander intervention and shifting cultural norms that encourage looking out for one another and speaking up when others may be in danger.

RetrieverCourage_Advocates-01 (2)

A Retriever Courage poster that reads “Culture Change Takes Advocates.”

It’s important to remember that ending sexual violence isn’t a survivor’s issue or even a women’s issue…. It’s an everybody issue and we all can play a role in changing our culture.

So what did we explore? 

  1. ““Don’t tell ME to Chill out”– Holding our Friends Accountable and saying NO to Rape Culture.” We shared a blog post from our archives written by former Women’s Center student staff member, Yoo-Jin. In this post,she shares an experience of sexual assault and the troubling aftermath when bystanders didn’t take it seriously. She goes on to share how later she received immense support and validation when she shared her experience online.  This is a great read to understand the various ways someone can support a survivor and the ways in which lack of support and believe can reinforce rape culture.
    “Looking back at what happened, I think what was most hurtful was the bystander behavior of the guy’s friends, who excused his perpetuation of rape culture behavior. Rather than holding their friend accountable for

    Excerpt from “Don’t Tell Me to Chill Out” blog post. 

    2. What is a Green Dot? Green Dot is a bystander intervention program that is built on the premise that in order to measurably reduce the perpetration of power-based personal violence, including sexual violence, partner violence, or stalking, a cultural shift is necessary. In order to create a cultural shift, a critical mass of people will need to engage in a new behavior or set of behaviors that will make violence less sustainable within any given community. The “new behavior” is a green dot.
    3. The Green Dot program empowers those who are trained to do the right thing for themselves, their neighbor, classmate, teammate or friend. The Green Dot slogan is “No one has to do everything, everyone has to do something.” Through the Green Dot training at UMBC, we learn that the 3 D’s (Distract, Delegate, or Direct!) are a helpful way to understand the various ways one can intervene. Watch this video to learn more.

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Image of a red dot and green dot that explains the difference between the two

To see everything posted on our accounts last week, check out the hashtag #UMBCsaam over at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Also, be sure to follow UMBC’s Green Dot program on Instagram an myUMBC. 

What We Didn’t Have Time to Discuss:

The root of sexual violence is power oppression and requires we take a power-conscious approach in our awareness, prevention, an response efforts. It’s important that we shift well-intended prevention efforts frequently focused on teaching potential victims how not to get raped and instead teach potential perpetrators not to rape. To develop a deeper understanding of a power-conscious framework, we recommend reading Dr. Chris Linder’s book Sexual Violence on Campus: Power-Conscious Approaches to Awareness, Prevention, and Response.

As we already shared, ending sexual violence is everyone’s responsibility but what is the unique role men can play in preventing sexual assault? Watch Jeffrey Bucholtz of We End Violence on Sexual Violence and Male Responsibility to learn more.


 

zine

Front cover of our SAAM Zine: Survivors to the Front: A Call to Witness

And, in case you missed it, we are beyond proud to share with you all our zine for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Made by survivors and for the entirety of our community, we hope you can read and share these amazing, powerful, beautiful stories from our very own UMBC community!
You can view Survivors to the Front: A Call to Witness here


Follow the Women’s Center on myUMBC,  Facebook, 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

Virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Centering the Margin: Individual and Systemic Barriers (Week 4) 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.

SAAM 2020 Online

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

But, we get it… Maybe you’re not on Facebook. Maybe you needed to take a break from social media for the day because you’re practicing self-care. Or maybe, you’re still following us on all the things and still missed a pretty cool post. That’s okay! 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 4 of SAAM with lots of posts and content centered around the theme of “Centering the Margin: Individual and Systemic Barriers.” This meant the posts we shared took a deeper dive into how sexual assault prevention and response often pushes underrepresented and marginalized survivors to the margins. Through resource sharing and consciousness-raising, we hope that as individuals and communities we center these survivors and ensure prevention and response work that takes their specific needs into consideration.

So what did we explore? 

  1. What is cultural betrayal trauma theory? This theory by Dr. Jennifer Gomez is the result of her research focused on the effects of interpersonal trauma (e.g., physical, sexual, and emotional abuse) in diverse populations. Cultural betrayal trauma theory is the idea that some minorities develop what Gomez calls “(intra)cultural trust” – love, loyalty, attachment, connection, responsibility and solidarity with each other to protect themselves from a hostile society. Within-group violence, such as a black perpetrator harming a black victim, is a violation of this (intra)cultural trust. This violation is called a cultural betrayal and it can lead to diverse outcomes, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and internalized prejudice. You can learn more here.

    culturalbetrayal

    A visual representation of cultural betrayal trauma theory.

  2. Deepening Our Demands For Safety and Healing For Black Survivors of Sexual Violence: “For every Black woman who reports her rape, at least fifteen do not. Many cite a fear that they will not be believed by authorities, or, worse yet, subjected to further violence and criminalization” (Ritchie, Andrea 2017). Read more on Andrea Ritchie’s research and policy brief for “Deepening Our Demands For Safety and Healing For Black Survivors of Sexual Violence”

    expanding

    Image of the cover page for the “Deepening Our Demands For Safety and Healing For Black Survivors of Sexual Violence.”

  3. Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw: #MeToo and Black Women: From Hip Hop to Hollywood: Listen to this powerful conversation addressing the historical violence of Black women and what movement building looks like that center’s Black women’s experiences
  4. Transgender Sexual Violence Survivors: A Self Help Guide to Healing and Understanding : “50% or more of all transgender and gender non-conforming people have experienced some form of sexual abuse, sometimes from many different people over many years.” This helpful guide explores techniques and exercises for healing, descriptions for LGBT services and how to develop a safety plan.

To see everything posted on our accounts last week, check out the hashtag #UMBCsaam over at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Important Take-Aways:

Advocate for policies that combat inequality in education, health care, law enforcement and the judicial system that center the needs of underrepresented communities who experience trauma (to learn more, check out Nadia BenAissa’s URCAD Presentation)

→ Believe Survivors. No matter what identities they hold.

→ Challenge toxic and harmful cultural norms that impact survivors’ mental health. Learn how to support harm doers in being accountable by checking out this video on How to Support Harm Doers in Being Accountable.

Follow the Women’s Center on myUMBC,  Facebook, 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

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

Virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Deconstructing Rape Myths and Narratives (Week 2) 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. 

Have you been taking a break from social media? Missed a few posts? That’s okay! 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 two of SAAM and spent the last several days exploring rape narratives and myths through the following content:

1.What is rape culture? Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which sexual violence is pervasive,  normalized, or encouraged due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. As exemplified in this image, tolerance of things at the bottom leads to excusing the behaviors at the top. 

This pyramid describes rape culture, with words on the bottom including catcalling, rape jokes, and stalking. The top includes rape, molestation, and and drugging. 

2. The prevalence of rape myths reinforces a very narrow definition of what sexual violence/rape is and how and when it happens. By deconstructing rape myths, we enable survivors to better access support and healing by ending a culture that blames victims. Learn more at Everyday Feminism

Want even more to read about this topic? Check out this list of books!

3. The phrase “Boys will be boys” is an “explain-away” that can work to reinforce rape culture (think back to that pyramid!). 

Here is a helpful article from the Good Men Project that further explains the importance of unlearning to use this phrase, but first, take a listen to one of Dua Lipa’s newest songs, “Boys Will Be Boys” which adresses sexual harassment some women (and also some LGBTQ folks) experience. What do you think?

4. What about implicit biases? So much of media is focused on “the perfect victim,” but this stereotype perpetuates dangerous myths that limit our understanding of the broad ways in which rape impacts people. Check out this video to learn more. 

What about LGBTQ survivors?  We live in a world where “heterosexuality” is default, and also where we are told that victims are women and rapists are men; however, in creating and perpetuating this rape myth, we are silencing a vast majority of survivor stories whose experiences reflect their LGBTQ identities. Read more in this vice article.

The Women’s Center’s pronoun pins!

Important Take-Away:

Remember the pyramid! Tolerance of sexist attitudes, rape jokes, and catcalling all contribute to perpetuating rape culture. 

Examine your implicit biases. There’s no such thing as a “perfect victim”, and far too many LGBTQ survivors are silenced by steryotypes and rape myths. 

Cut out language that promotes rape culture. Never say “Boys will be boys”! 

Boys will be held accountable for their actions!

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

  • Reflect on any implicit biases you might not realize you have. Read some of the articles we posted, reflect on your own beliefs, and start a conversation. 
  • Share one of the articles above on your social media platforms. Ask your friends or family members if they’d be willing to engage in a conversation with you about one of the takeaways that stood out to you.
  • Learn more about how to cultivate a culture of consent. Here’s one more video on consent you can watch and share! Are you on twitter? Read more tweets written by Spring Up here, and feel free to use their proposed tweets – they gave their consent! 

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

Virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Affirmative Consent (Week 1) 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.

SAAM 2020 Online

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

But, we get it… Maybe you’re not on Facebook. Maybe you needed to take a break from social media for the day because you’re practicing self-care. Or maybe, you’re still following us on all the things and still missed a pretty cool post. That’s okay! 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 one of SAAM and spent the last several days exploring affirmative consent through the following content:

  1. “What is affirmative consent?”” brought to you by Retriever Courage and UMBC’s Policy on Prohibited Sexual Misconduct, Interpersonal Violence, and Other Related Misconduct.

    RetrieverCourage_Consent-01

    Image is part of the Retriever Courage poster campaign. This poster focuses on what consent is and includes a list of what consent is and isn’t. 

  2. Affirmative consent is all about saying or confirming an enthusiastic yes because YOU WANT TO… not because you feel like you have to say yes. And, being able to say yes means learning how to say no. We can learn how to create boundaries and say “no” way before we are even thinking about consent in terms of sex and it starts with educating little kids. Everyday Feminism has a great graphic to illustrate this point.

    kidsconsent

    Image Reads: Children are told that adults are owed their attention and affection. When that idea is internalized it can be difficult to accept that no one is owed physical contact or emotional safety.

  3. Knowing what you want and don’t want is a key part of being able to participate in affirmative consent. Reviewing and completing a sexual inventory can be a great way for you to identify what you want and don’t want as a first step in being able to communicate your needs. Check out this  Yes, No, Maybe list from Scarleteen.
  4. In this time of distance learning, Zoom meetings, and FaceTime as some of our only means of socially connecting with classmates, co-workers, family and friends, it’s even more important to be thinking about digital consent and practicing clear communication. Learn more here. 

Important Take-Away:

Affirmative consent is not just about the presence of a no… it is the presence of an enthusiastic yes!

Remember FRIES.… consent is: Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific.

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

  • Incorporate at least one way you can ask or give consent into your daily life, whether that’s asking to hug someone if you haven’t asked in the past, talking to your friends about tagging you on social media only after they’ve asked you, or offering an alternative way for a young person in your life to show gratitude that isn’t connected to physical touch or affection.
  • Share one of the articles above on your social media platforms. Ask your friends or family member if they’d be willing to engage in a conversation with you about one of the takeaways that stood out to you.
  • Like tea? Then here’s one more video on consent you can watch and share!

 

Follow the Women’s Center on myUMBC,  Facebook, 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

What You Need to Know About Take Back The Night & Craftivism

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Women’s Center is hosting its seventh consecutive Take Back The Night (TBTN) on Thursday, April 13th. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of questions about what Take Back the Night exactly is, why it looks the way it does, and how students can get involved. To help get those questions answered this year, we’ve doing a “What You Need to Know” series focused on TBTN so stay tuned for more posts over the next couple of weeks. This is the fifth post in the series and it focuses on the last part of Take Back the Night which is craftivism and community building.

Hearing and sharing survivors’ stories of sexual violence can be empowering, challenging, and emotional. We know that people process their feelings in different ways, and so following survivor speak out and march, the event continues with Craftivism on Main Street. This portion of the program is intended to provide space for reflection, creative expression, and community building.

When the marchers return to Main Street, there will be tables set up with art supplies for anyone wishing to contribute to one of the community craft projects we’ll have available: sachet bags to fill with scented dried flowers and herbs, the Clothesline Project, and the Dear Survivor scrapbook. We also encourage attendees to check out the resource tables to learn more about various campus and community organizations and services.

All are welcome to add a page to our Dear Survivor scrapbook, which features messages of hope, healing, and solidarity from survivors and allies who have attended TBTN in past years. The scrapbook can be found in the Women’s Center lounge.

20170412_110026.jpg

Materials for the Clothesline Project will be available for survivors who would like to give voice to their experience by decorating a shirt that will be displayed during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every April, these shirts are hung shoulder-to-shoulder on a clothesline on Main Street to give public testimony to the problems of sexual and gender-based violence. Please note that while allies are invited to participate in the Monument Quilt and Dear Survivor scrapbook, the Clothesline Project is intended for those who identify as survivors.

IMG_1546.jpg

For those who prefer a quieter space for reflection, there will be a self-care station set up in the commuter lounge available during the survivor speak out and the rest of the evening. There will be tissues, stress balls, coloring supplies, and other resources for self-care. The station also provides a more private space where attendees can speak with one of the counselors on call, if needed.

img_9483.jpg

For more information about UMBC’s TBTN (check out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too by searching the hashtag #UMBCTBTN):

Supporting survivors past April

saam 2017 infographic.jpg

This past April was our most powerful yet. In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Women’s Center coordinated the annual Take Back the Night event, which 265 UMBC community members attended (click here for a photo round-up). The Clothesline Project reached another 183 people, and 10 new shirts were created by survivors of interpersonal violence.

 

 

The Women’s Center’s mission to support survivors extends beyond April. This year, the Women’s Center has trained 103 students, faculty, and staff in our supporting survivors workshops. Jess and Megan have also devoted over 25 hours of 1-1 support meetings for survivors and those dedicated to supporting them.

As this school year ends, please help us continue cultivating a survivor-responsive campus. We are only $450 away from making our 25th Anniversary GiveCorps goal for the 2016-2017 school year!
Give today and help a survivor access the support they need. 

What You Need to Know About Take Back The Night & Craftivism

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Women’s Center is hosting its fifth consecutive Take Back The Night (TBTN) on Thursday, April 13th. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of questions about what Take Back the Night exactly is, why it looks the way it does, and how students can get involved. To help get those questions answered this year, we’ve doing a “What You Need to Know” series focused on TBTN so stay tuned for more posts over the next couple of weeks. This is the fifth post in the series and it focuses on the last part of Take Back the Night which is craftivism and community building.

Hearing and sharing survivors’ stories of sexual violence can be empowering, challenging, and emotional. We know that people process their feelings in different ways, and so following survivor speak out and march, the event continues with Craftivism on Main Street. This portion of the program is intended to provide space for reflection, creative expression, and community building.

When the marchers return to Main Street, there will be tables set up with art supplies for anyone wishing to contribute to one of the community craft projects we’ll have available: the FORCE Monument Quilt, the Clothesline Project, and the Dear Survivor scrapbook. We also encourage attendees to check out the resource tables to learn more about various campus and community organizations and services.

A volunteer from FORCE will be present to assist anyone interested in making a quilt square for the Monument Quilt. The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of testimonials from survivors of sexual violence, as well as their allies. This national project will eventually blanket the National Mall with the phrase Not Alone. The quilt is a way to demand public space to heal, and create a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.

IMG_1550

A community member works on a Monument Quilt square.

All are welcome to add a page to our Dear Survivor scrapbook, which features messages of hope, healing, and solidarity from survivors and allies who have attended TBTN in past years. The scrapbook can be found in the Women’s Center lounge.

20170412_110026.jpg

The Dear Survivor scrapbook offers messages of healing and solidarity.

Materials for the Clothesline Project will be available for survivors who would like to give voice to their experience by decorating a shirt that will be displayed during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every April, these shirts are hung shoulder-to-shoulder on a clothesline on Main Street to give public testimony to the problems of sexual and gender-based violence. Please note that while allies are invited to participate in the Monument Quilt and Dear Survivor scrapbook, the Clothesline Project is intended for those who identify as survivors.

IMG_1546.jpg

TBTN attendees decorate T-shirts for the Clothesline Project.

For those who prefer a quieter space for reflection, there will be a self-care station set up in the commuter lounge available during the survivor speak out and the rest of the evening. There will be tissues, stress balls, coloring supplies, and other resources for self-care. The station also provides a more private space where attendees can speak with one of the counselors on call, if needed.

img_9483.jpg

Tissues, coloring, and other self-care resources will be available in the self-care station during and after the speak out.

For more information about UMBC’s TBTN (check out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too by searching the hashtag #UMBCTBTN):

Dear Survivor

This guest post was written by a UMBC community member who has asked to remain anonymous to allow for privacy while sharing this important experience. 

***Content Note: This post contains detailed descriptions of physical threats and sexual violence, and mentions of suicidal ideation. Please practice self-care while reading.*** 

Dear Survivor,

I would like to tell you my story of survival. I think that maybe, just maybe, it could provide you with something that will be helpful. I hope that it will. As a survivor myself, I know that lots of people have reacted to me in ways that minimized my experience, or, in contrast, made my experience into the thing that defined me. Both felt like shit. Both made me feel trapped.

I don’t want to do that to you. Instead, I want to show you a path to a future in which your survival matters, but the specific things you have survived are just a distant footnote in your memory.

2017-04-11 11.57.09

Dear Survivor letters created at UMBC’s Take Back the Night offer messages of solidarity.

I want to tell you some details about my story. It happened 25 years ago.

Continue reading