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Awareness week supports survivors

This year marks the third annual Sexual Assault Awareness Week hosted by John Brown University’s Students Against Sex Slavery (SASS). The organization worked with the Northwest Arkansas Rape Crisis Center, who indorsed this event be held in the fall.

“One in three women, and one in six men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. And those are only the reported cases. This isn’t a ‘woman’s issue,’ this is an issue for everyone,” Krista Gay, co-leader of SASS said.

The center advocates for change because, “Among victims [of abuse] ages 18 to 29, two-thirds had a prior relationship with the offender,” according to National Institute of Justice. Therefore, hosting the event in the fall could give survivors the resources needed to face their abusers when they return home for the holidays and are around extended family and friends.

This year with the event being moved sooner, SASS is partnering with University nurse Rhonda Hostler and the University of Arkansas, to host the event during the week of Oct. 4-7.

Gay said she believes the week is important for three reasons: “To let the JBU community know that our students are not exempt from sexual assault, to help everyone know how to better protect themselves and to let survivors of sexual assault know that they are not alone.”

SASS is partnering with the “That’s so 6 percent campaign” from the University of Arkansas and can be seen on posters throughout campus.

“Research has found that 6 percent of men meet the criteria for rape or attempted rape,” according to the campaign website, respect.uark.edu.

The site also states, “We live in a culture in which attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors dismiss rape as less than what it actually is.” This campaign hopes to use the “that’s so 6 percent” slogan to call out actions that support rape culture.

Gay said another reason for Sexual Assault Awareness Week is that, “Unfortunately, survivors often do not know the resources available to them, and wrongly believe they are alone. They are not alone. We need to be willing to talk about this to support them as a community, and to let everyone know this behavior will not be tolerated.”

The event kicked off last Sunday night after the Gathering. Around the campus fountain, SASS volunteers lit candles along the sidewalks to represent the statistical number of men and women on campus who will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The statistic, about one in three women and one in six men, was applied to the student population at JBU, and the result was 304 candles for women and 177 candles for men.

Danielle Janes, a volunteer with SASS, said Sexual Assault Awareness Week is important for the sake of talking about something that doesn’t get talked about very often. Janes said she hopes this week will let survivors of sexual assault know that they are supported.