This April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) is hosting a series of events open to Reed community members.
On Wednesday, April 10, survivors spoke of their own experiences during Take Back the Night in Eliot chapel. To create a safe space for survivors, there was no mandatory reporting, and multiple SAPR advocates were present to offer their support. Individuals who weren’t survivors also showed up in solidarity.
At the end of the night, those who attended the event were handed pieces of paper on which they were invited to write their story, the name of their abuser, or any frustrations that they’ve had in regards to consent and feeling violated. Those pieces of paper were then burned in a small fire.
T-shirts were also hung on a clothesline that stretched across the walls of the chapel during the event. They were decorated last Saturday by volunteers who either used the shirts to tell their own story or wrote messages of support for other survivors.
An art gallery of works created by survivors that share their stories and experiences will also be on display from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. in GCC-BC, from Thursday, April 11, until Saturday, April 13. Steward Captain Nell Scherfling, who co-organized the event with advocate Lauren Chacon, says the goal of the gallery is to allow survivors who may be uncomfortable expressing something personal through language and in-person during Take Back the Night to have a different medium for their expression.
SAPR also grappled with the issue of providing a safe space within the gallery walls without censoring the art of survivors. “As much as we want to provide content warnings, we never wanted to tell survivors what they can and cannot express,” says Scherfling. “So we’ve navigated the problem by acknowledging that there can be graphic, sexual, and violent material displayed within the gallery. We also have advocates staffed during all of those shifts to provide advocacy or connect people with other resources they might need.”
Other upcoming events include a presentation on the legal resources for survivors by Shara Jones from the Victim Rights Law Center, a presentation on designing and publishing zines by Pharaoh Bolding, and a hands-on zine-making workshop. Advocates will be present during all of the events. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.