CSU kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Students milled in and out of the rows of tables that were scattered throughout the Student Center Atrium. The feeling in the air was one of acceptance and understanding, topped with a feeling of determination.

The Day of Action event is how Cleveland State University kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.) on Tuesday, April 2 in the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Health and Wellness Coordinator Denise Keary spearheaded the event, announcing speakers Matt Knickman, the director of Student Activities and Involvement, and Samia Shaheen, president of the Student Government Association.

Many organizations that push for awareness throughout Cleveland State attended Day of Action, supplying students with countless resources regarding sexual violence.

Not only did Day of Action kick off the significance of April, but it got members of The Cauldron thinking about what students of Cleveland State need to know to go through this month and carrying on afterward.

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Highlight on CRCC

There are many artists throughout the world that promote awareness for sexual and domestic violence. To hit close to home, Bon Iver, Grammy-award-winning indie folk band, recently performed at KeyBank State Theatre in Playhouse Square on March 29. Bon Iver started a campaign called 2 A Billion, which according to the website, is meant to “raise support, awareness and person-to-person connections in an effort to end gender inequality, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.”

Because this is a passion project of Bon Iver’s, it seems only fitting that they promote an organization in every city they perform at for their spring tour.

When they came to Cleveland on March 29, they partnered with Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC). CRCC had a table set up in the lobby of KeyBank Theatre. According to one representative of CRCC, they were the only organization that Bon Iver had reached out to about attending their concert as their 2 A Billion partner.

CRCC is a Cleveland-based organization that is centered on supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault. Their mission as a whole is to eliminate sexual violence on a local, national and global scale.

CRCC’s main office is located in downtown Cleveland in The Halle Building. The address will be provided in the resources section of this article. It is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m.

In addition to this main office, CRCC also offers 14 satellite offices throughout Northeast Ohio, ranging from regional offices throughout Cleveland to campus locations, including Cleveland State. Students have the option to talk to someone from CRCC at their Student Center location in the Office of Student Affairs.

They have walk-in hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 2 – 6 p.m. They offer students individual counseling, victim assistance, prevention services and professional training.

CRCC also provides a 24/7 phone number and text hotline that individuals can contact whenever they need. There is also an online chat option on their website for those who feel more comfortable online versus using the phone.

For those that want to get involved in CRCC, Campus Outreach Specialist Jaliah Neely said that they are always looking for volunteers and interns who are interested in helping the cause and spreading awareness of sexual violence.

Every year, more than 40,000 people find themselves participating in the center’s counseling services and educational programs. CRCC is one resource that has made themselves available to the city of Cleveland in many ways and plans to continue to do so for as long as possible.

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Shows that promote S.A.A.M.

Countless TV shows and movies highlight the importance of sexual assault and its effect on individuals. Actors perform with the best of their ability to convey the impact these acts of violence have on human beings and those around them. Below are just a few of the many shows that have taken part in spreading awareness of sexual assault.

“The Bold Type”

This show has just premiered with its third season, but they didn’t hold back on topics since day one of its run. In episode ten of season one, titled “Carry the Weight,” the writers chose to use the finale to press the importance of assault and how it affects victims years after the occurrence. With “The Bold Type,” they do this through one of the main characters, Jane Sloan, who is a writer for Scarlet Magazine.

She embarks on an article that focuses on Mia, who is a rape survivor and performance artist. The performance that Mia is doing in this episode hits home for many, including Scarlet Editor Jacqueline Carlyle. Mia stands in Central Park holding heavy weights, symbolizing that even though she was assaulted years previously, the weight that she carries from that event still lingers inside of her. Anyone is able to come and take the weights from Mia, for their moment of personal acknowledgment that even though they have survived the attack, they are still victims on a day to day basis.

“Grey’s Anatomy”

This landmark season and episode stirred a lot of attention after it aired on March 28, marking the 19th episode of the 15th season. The writers held nothing back with this episode, highlighting sexual assault and putting rape survivors front and center. Fans of the show were curious of what this episode would hold, due to promos leading up to the release that said: “Due to sensitive subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.”

The episode had storylines that interweaved, but the main plotline resided with a patient, Abby, and doctors Teddy and Jo. Jo runs into Abby in the hall, becomes her doctor and gradually realizes that Abby seems to be showing some signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Teddy joins Jo in the treatment of Abby and is the one to administer a rape kit on Abby in what proves to be an emotional, moving and heart-wrenching scene, in which Khalilah Joi, who plays Abby, leaves a significant impression on viewers.

“The Fosters”

There are many instances on this show where the writers and cast highlight sexual violence. “The Fosters” was never afraid to push boundaries and finally took the steps other shows missed the mark on when it came to acknowledging statutory rape. In one episode, a boy under the age of 18 was assaulted by his dad’s girlfriend. Multiple occurrences in following episodes call what happened “sex.” Finally, another set of parents call what happened to the boy rape, due to the fact that he is underage and he was incapacitated at the time. These episodes also highlight victim blaming, which shows are talking about more in recent years.

They talk about kids being taken advantage of in foster care. According to a study about child abuse found off of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, foster children are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused in their foster home than children who live with both biological parents.

Out of the Darkness

One way that individuals can show support for mental health is the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, which will be happening April 27 at 11 a.m.

The Out of the Darkness Campus Walks are a part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). AFSP hosts these events across the country to promote awareness for mental health and suicide, which is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24.

Cleveland State’s Helping You through Peer Education (H.Y.P.E.) Team and the Suicide Prevention Student Leaders team are the ones hosting this year’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. The goal is to raise money and benefit AFSP as well as raise awareness regarding the mental health of students. Cleveland State has a fundraising goal of $5,000 for the campus walk. As of now, just under $1,000 has been raised.

Something that AFSP does at these campus walks is hand out beaded necklaces for participants to wear if they wish. The color of the necklaces define what the individual wearing them has gone through and why the walk means something to them. For example, if one wears a white necklace, it means that they have lost a child to suicide.

Silver – Loss of a first responder/military member

Orange – Loss of a sibling

Green – Personal struggle

Red – Loss of a spouse or partner

Blue – Support the cause

Teal – A loved one struggles

Purple – Loss of a relative or friend

Gold – Loss of a parent

White – Loss of a child

While this article’s main focus is on sexual assault awareness, highlighting suicide and the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk still rings true in equal importance.

According to RAINN, 94 percent of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the initial weeks following. Additionally, 33 percent of women who are raped contemplate suicide, and 13 percent of women who are raped attempt suicide.

Getting involved with the campus walk is meant to help spread awareness to the Cleveland State community about why suicide is the second leading cause of death and help Cleveland State students find the resources they need.

This is the first time that the Out of the Darkness walk will be happening at Cleveland State.

The campus walk will be starting at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs lawn. Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m. and the walk is scheduled to go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information on the walk, those interested can visit https://afsp.org/CSUOhio.

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Originally posted on The Cauldron.

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