The student organization Promoting Awareness and Victim Empowerment is hosting multiple events in April for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Jamie Chariton, executive director and organization president, said she hopes to eliminate common myths related to sexual assault.
“If people give consent, it does not mean they are giving consent to every single sexual act or future acts,” Chariton said. “Even if they give consent to something, at any point they have the right and power to say no.”
The first event, Ring Out Sexual Violence, took place on April 10 in the Stevens Point Market Square.
“People from the community and on campus talked for a few minutes on sexual assault awareness,” Chariton said. “At noon they rang bells 12 seconds, symbolizing that fact that every 12 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted.”
Kerra Conrad, communications coordinator and organization secretary, said she hopes these events will educate students on violence occurring every day.
“When I first came here, I didn’t know about any of the resources that were located on campus,” Conrad said. “I think students should be aware that there are people here who are willing to help.”
From 4:30 to 6 p.m. on April 22 in room 221 of the Noel Fine Arts Center, there will be a Sexual Assault Resources Panel. The district attorney, Sexual Assault Victims Services and the dean of students will provide information on what proceeds a sexual assault report.
“Nobody thinks it’s ever going to happen to them until it does,” said Abigail Tentinger, assistant director of the organization. “It’s important for everyone to have the necessary information in case the unthinkable happens.”
On April 29, everyone on campus is asked to participate in Denim Day. Chariton explained the history of Denim Day is rooted back to the rape of a young girl in Rome in 1997. Her 45-year-old instructor picked up the 18-year-old girl for her very first driving lesson and an hour later, raped and abandoned her in an alley. She made her way home and reported the incident.
“It went to trial, and he was found not guilty because the judge said that her jeans were so tight that she must have helped take them off; therefore, it could not have been rape,” Chariton said.
Chariton says the main goal is to show support for survivors and break the silence around sexual assault.
“No matter what led up to it, whether they were flirting, kissing or if there was just an attraction, it is not their fault,” Chariton said. “Silence perpetuates violence.”
The organization is also accepting stories, poems, original artwork and pictures to be published in the booklet “The Survivor’s Voice: Empowering Stories of Healing From Sexual Assault.” Those interested can submit anonymously at the Family Crisis Center at 1616 West River Drive or at Health Services at 910 Fremont St.
“We want to help people understand what consent is, what it means to get consent and also to give survivors a chance to share their story and experience a community of people who say we’re here, and we believe you,” said Chariton. “There is support out there.”