Turn Off the Violence Week ‘Breaks the Silence’: Sexual Assault Services Aims To End Violence

by   Posted on October 6th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Amanda Cheek, News Editor

Beginning today and continuing through Oct. 8, several parts of campus will be bustling with activities hosted by George Mason University’s Sexual Assault Services for Turn Off the Violence Week. The week features events dedicated to promoting awareness of sexual and domestic violence.

Rachel Mosunmade, a Mason sophomore and medical technology major said she saw a flyer for Turn off the Violence Week in Student Union Building I.

“[Domestic violence] is something that needs attention brought to it. It affects a lot of people,” said Mosunmade.

Turn off the Violence Week is co-sponsored by the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Feminist Student Organization at Mason.

“People ages 20-24 are at the highest risk for sexual assault, immediately followed by those ages 16-20,” said the Director of Sexual Services, Connie Kirkland.

Kirkland also said that promoting awareness about sexual and domestic violence on college campuses is important because a college campus is a community like any other, and behaves just like one.

“Both sexual and dating violence is very common on all college campuses, not just at Mason,” said Kirkland. “We are no different.”

Two events will be running throughout the entirety of Turn Off the Violence Week. Sexual Assault Services will be promoting the White Ribbon Campaign all week.

According to the office’s website, http://sas.gmu.edu, the White Ribbon Campaign is the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. Wearing a white ribbon symbolizes a man’s pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.

“It’s kind of a serious thing,” said Chen Mo, a sophomore and management major new to Mason. “It is that important, and I think it is a good thing for Mason to promote.”

The Clothesline Project will also be active on campus all week. This project aims to hang over 500 t-shirts designed by hand, by actual survivors of sexual or domestic violence. This event will be happening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week, in the grove area between Harris Theater and Student Union Building I.

“The hope for TOV Week is for survivors to know that they can ‘Break the Silence’ by attending The Clothesline Project and perhaps creating a t-shirt in honor of someone who has been victimized . . . to be empowered to do something to end sexual and domestic violence at Mason and in the world in which we live,” said Kirkland.

The Take Back the Night Rally and March is an event that will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. on the North Plaza of campus. Preceding this event will be a free yoga YES! session in the North Plaza, hosted by yoga teachers Dawn Curtis, Felicity Boyer and Mandy Shaver. YES! Yoga is Yoga to Empower Yourself, to enhance personal power, identity and self-esteem, according to the Sexual Assault Services website.

Survivor Space is the event planned for Wednesday, Oct. 7. This is a safe space provided for survivors of sexual or domestic violence to speak, listen and find support. This event will be at 7 p.m. in the grove area between Harris Theater and SUB I. According to Kirkland, on college campuses less than five percent of completed or attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement. Also taking place Wednesday is Don’t Fight, Wear White, an all day event promoting students to wear white t-shirts to contribute support to an end to sexual violence on college campuses and in the community.

The Mentors Advisory Board, who are members of Mason’s faculty and staff, will be present at the MasonStrong Interest Meeting—Are you strong? event on Thursday, Oct. 8. This event offers students interested in working with Mason to end sexual violence a chance to participate in face-to-face talks with the board. This event will be at 1 p.m. in SUB I, room A.

“I heard about [TOV Week] last year in SUB I and I saw the t-shirts. I thought it was great, and the t-shirts were powerful,” said Jeanine Wavelet, a senior and education major at Mason.

Wavelet said that she thinks sexual and domestic violence is something people probably care about because they have been hearing more about it happening on college campuses from the media, such as with the recent death Yale student Annie Le.

“It’s about promoting awareness and getting the information out there,” said Wavelet. Kirkland said that according to the National Institute of Justice, 90 percent of campus sexual assault survivors knew their attacker as a current or former dating partner, classmate, friend or coworker.

“If each of us takes a part, even a small part, such as believing the friend who tells us that she or he has been victimized, we are making a statement that such acts are wrong and need to be eradicated in our society,” said Kirkland.

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