Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Sexual Assault Awareness Week works to raise assault understanding

To raise awareness about sexual assaults, particularly on college campuses, the University’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program is sponsoring Sexual Assault Awareness Week April 9–13.

The week will feature information about the effects of sexual assault and prevention measures. On April 11, a Take Back the Night rally, march and candlelight vigil aiming to end silence about sexual assault will start at 7:30 p.m. in Sidelines Pub in the Driscoll Center.

“The Clothesline Project,” which allows participants to create a T-shirt expressing feelings about sexual assault, will be held throughout the week in the Health and Counseling Center and in the Driscoll Center, Room 202B.

A shirt-decorating event is scheduled prior to “Take Back the Night” on April 11 from 4–6 p.m. in Driscoll room 1880.

A collection of art, “Expressions of Silence,” will travel around campus April 9–30.

Lisa Ingarfield, the program’s director, says it is especially important for college students to be aware of sexual assault and work toward preventing it.

“There is a feeling of invincibility about sexual assault, an ‘it isn’t going happen to me’ mentality,” says Ingarfield. “And so people don’t think about it and don’t concern themselves with the issue unless they have been affected directly or indirectly by it.”

She adds that when it does happen, “students will blame themselves, rarely seek resources for fear of ostracism from their peer group, fear of blame from friends and family, and fear that nothing will happen and the perpetrator will have no consequences.”

According to Campus Safety Crime Prevention Officer Stephen Banet, there were two sexual assaults reported to Campus Safety this academic year — one on-campus and one off-campus. Both were committed by strangers and took place after dark.

Banet says sexual assaults by non-strangers, or “date rapes,” are far more common, but victims often do not report them.

The University established the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program in 2005. It aims to reduce the number of assaults at DU by providing support and resources for victims on campus.

The office has created the Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate (SASA) Network, which is comprised of a team of students, staff, and faculty trained in sexual assault response. The team can be reached at 303-871-3853 from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.

Visit the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention site for awareness week details.

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