Turn off the Violence Week Begins Today

Posted: October 3, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell and Rey Banks

Turn off the Violence, a week-long initiative to call attention to the impact of sexual and domestic violence on campus, begins Monday, Oct. 3. The initiative is sponsored by Sexual Assault Services (SAS), the Women’s Center, Men’s Allies Group and University Life.

As part of the week’s activities, the Clothesline Project, a visual display of T-shirts created by and for victims as a way to break the silence, will be on view in the area between Robinson Hall and Student Union Building I (SUB I). The Clothesline Project has been a tradition since 1997, and new shirts are continually added. Materials are provided by SAS for those wishing to add their creations to the display.

Another event will include the Take Back the Night Rally that will start at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the North Plaza. The rally seeks to bring an end to violence against women and support those impacted by dating violence and sexual assault. Highlights include entertainment and peer education. Both men and women are encouraged to attend this event, which will be followed by a reception in the Women’s Center located in the Johnson Center, Room 240K.

Survivors of sexual assault are invited to attend Survivor Space on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the grove outside of SUB I. to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe and supportive atmosphere. “It is such an interesting way for people to work through feelings of victimization, whether it is their own or someone else’s,” says Connie Kirkland, director of SAS.

There are also plenty of opportunities for students to be involved in volunteer activities during Turn off the Violence Week and throughout the year. Students can volunteer for Healthy Relationships Week, which leads up to Valentine’s Day; Safe Spring Break Week in April; or Victim’s Rights Week, which is cosponsored with the University Police. Students can be peer educators, peer advocates and peer companions. Training for peer educators is held annually in August.

Among the many services provided by SAS are a comprehensive response to reports of sexual assault, stalking and dating/domestic violence; crisis intervention and referrals for recent and past incidents; information on sexual assault; peer companions to provide assistance and support for student survivors; psychological, medical, legal and judicial support and information; academic intervention and emergency housing assistance; and educational programs.

“The mission of SAS is to provide outreach and training to the campus about the issues, not only about sexual assault, but about dating violence and stalking. And then equally to work with students and staff who have been affected by any of those issues,” says Connie Kirkland, director of SAS. “SAS averages 100 new cases a year, the majority sexual assault. Mostly, it’s non-stranger rape, and the cases are increasingly caused by intoxication or drugs that are given to the student.”

SAS is partly funded by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The act was passed in 1994 to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking and has allowed victims access to services that were not available in the past.

For more information on SAS and for a list of upcoming events, visit their web site.

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