It’s Time To Talk About It
Emma St. Aubin

Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things. This month, let’s learn what’s acceptable and what’s not.

The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month not only among the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point campus but throughout the United States. Campuses across the nation are raising awareness for sexual assault to empower individuals to take a stand for the survivors and help them know they are not alone.

“Sexual assaults are happening on our campus, but very few are being reported. In fact, during a four-year period, there was not a single reported sexual assault on our campus,” said Kate Carson, the executive coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center.

Carson notes the word “reported,” acknowledging that few individuals report assault for various reasons.

“Either UWSP is a magical haven where there are no sexual assaults occurring, or we have a serious problem with under-reporting, which could be caused by a climate in which it is taboo to admit to having been assaulted or that the reporting procedures are unknown or too uncomfortable,” Carson said.

Designed to raise public awareness about sexual violence, Sexual Assault Awareness Month has and will continue to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. The Women’s Resource Center is seeking to foster a culture that empowers everyone to identify and fight rape culture—a culture in which images, language and other everyday phenomena validate rape and portray rape as inevitable.

Formerly known as the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Coalition, the Promoting Awareness / Victim Empowerment of UWSP is also working to raise awareness.

“Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UWSP is important because it helps to create a safe environment where we can begin to shatter the silence about sexual violence, connect victims to resources on and off campus, and promote dialogue about the meaning of consent,” said Jamie Chariton, the president and executive director of Promoting Awareness / Victim Empowerment of UWSP.

Statistics show that one in four women and one in five men will be the victim of sexual violence in their lifetime, and many of these assaults occur before the victim reaches the age of 20.

“9 out of 10 victims know their perpetrators, and many victims will keep the violence a secret their entire life,” Chariton said.

The Women’s Resource Center is collaborating with UWSP’s Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, the Portage County Community Response Team and the Zonta Club of Stevens Point to co-sponsor a variety of programs throughout the month of April.

One of the month’s events, Take Back the Night, is a night dedicated to ending sexual violence in all forms, including sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual abuse. The purpose is to empower everyone to feel safe in the community while highlighting the realities of sexual violence.

“The Women’s Resource Center has been holding this event annually on the UWSP campus for many years. We have done numerous things in the past, but this year we are planning to hold a rally with speakers, performances and a march,” Carson said.

This year’s Take Back the Night comes shortly after the UWSP campus has experienced three attempted abductions and/or attacks on women in less than a year.

Other events occurring throughout the month include a screening of the film “The Invisible War,” three different sessions of self-defense courses and the “Vagina Monologues.”

Starting at the beginning of next week, there will be a “Tree of Hope” on campus with teal ribbons on it to show support for survivors, which will be up all month.

Through Sexual Assault Awareness month, UWSP will join the nation in hopes to raise awareness on the unacceptability of sexual violence and help the survivors of sexual violence realize that they are not alone.