Community support for victims of sexual assault

With April already in full swing, Hope College is making great efforts in raising awareness in the community by educating people on sexual assault. Many Hope students who already understand the magnitude of a problem that sexual assault is through the #MeToo movement. have gotten involved. Hope Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) events and educational opportunities will bring light to the issue of sexual assault on campus. It’s imperative for both men and women to be united against sexual assault, bringing campu one step closer to the ultimate goal of being free of violence.

The annual SAAM banner was decorated April 3 and 4 as a way for the community to pledge their support. Students who came and stood with survivors to show their support provided a judgment -free zone that administered confidence to survivors. With jarring statistics such as “1 in 4 women experience sexual assault on campus,” Hope is attempting to cultivate a safe environment where assaults are taken seriously. These statistics give a picture of what’s happening on college campuses nationwide because sexual assault is a vastly underreported crime, due to victims’ mindsets that their assault wasn’t serious enough to report, or feeling ashamed. Bringing awareness to sexual assault on Hope’s campus will help change the mindsets of victims, who should be encouraged to report their assaults and receive the support they need. In addition, SAAM includes the Take Back the Night event on April 10th, when students will march around campus to encourage the bravery of survivors.

The event also allows survivors at Hope to voice their experiences of sexual assault and their process of healing. Various statistics demonstrate that many victims do not report their sexual assault incidents to anyone in authority, but instead to close family members or friends. These events will hopefully encourage the community to be aware of how to spot sexual assault incidents and learn how to respond to them. It is important that survivors do not feel ashamed but instead are encouraged to share their sexual assault experience in order to educate others. The Pinwheel Project and IJM Run for Freedom also help educate and bring awareness to sexual assault in the community. From April 8 to 12, pinwheels will be placed in the Pine Grove to represent the individuals at Hope who have been impacted by sexual violence. Students are encouraged to go out to the Pine Grove and commit themselves to doing something to stem sexual violence.

Later on in the month a coloring night, denim day and a survivor support yoga will be available for all students to join. Attending and participating in these events will provide a understanding on how sexual assault not only effects the victim, but their friends and family. Most importantly these events will illustrate that the whole community an play a part in helping create a safer environement for students o both thrive in and pormote their own chnage, so that sexual assaults will be erdicated.

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