81% of women and 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment or assault in their lifetimes. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Ferris’ Anti-violence Alliance hosted educational events.
April is observed nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Ferris’ AVA has had seven events to provide education and resources to students, faculty and staff.
Raven Hills, the AVA Violence Prevention Coordinator, explained that four of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month events have been tabling around campus. The AVA created a campaign on campus with the design project center called, “Don’t Skip Consent.”
“It’s around elements of consent. There were stickers and buttons available at all the tables around campus,” Hills said.
Justice Kobish is in his fifth year at Ferris, and he works as a peer educator through AVA. He was at one of the Don’t Skip Consent tabling events and explained the importance of letting people know that resources and education are available to people at Ferris through AVA.
“We would absolutely love to say that this sort of thing just doesn’t happen around here, but that’s not true,” Kobish said. “If you’re pretending that it doesn’t happen, then we’re not doing anything to fix it. So, by confronting the fact that it does happen, we can start to actually do things about it.”
Another tabling event is on April 27. It is being held on Denim Day, an international day where people wear denim to raise awareness for sexual assault.
Denim Day came from a case in the 1990s where a woman in Italy was assaulted by her driving instructor. The man was convicted, but the conviction was overturned when the judge claimed that the instructor couldn’t have taken the woman’s jeans off without consent.
“So, in protest, women in Parliament in Italy wore jeans to Parliament that day. Ever since then, it’s become this international day of recognition,” Hills said.
Senior Nia Goins has been the AVA staff lead since March 2021. She also founded Sistah Circle last semester with her roommate, Laila Duncan, which is an initiative for multicultural women on campus.
She explained that, while exploring what people wanted to see with the initiative, they learned that many women were concerned with sexual assault, domestic violence and relationship violence.
“We wanted to really raise awareness for what it looks like. It might look a little bit different than how you think that it might look. Especially with the Black community, the culture is a little bit different, so it might look a little bit different there,” Goins said.
Goins helped arrange a discussion on these topics on April 12 called, “Sexual Violence in the Black Community with Sistah Circle.”
At the end of the month, on April 25 and 28, the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is hosting two Zoom educational sessions. The first covered trauma stewardships, compassion fatigue and managing burnout. The second is about the neurobiology of trauma.
“[They’re] talking about how traumatic events impact people’s behaviors and the way that they respond to events. People will tend to have an idea of what a victim looks like and how they act, and this kind of dismantles some of those myths,” Hills said.
Another event looked at sexual assault in pop culture, explicitly exploring tropes that paint a harmful picture of relationships and sexual violence.
To learn about upcoming AVA events, check out their website at https://fsuantiviolence.org.