Given the current circumstances of COVID-19, millions of Americans are living under stay-at-home orders to practice physical distancing and slow the spread of the deadly disease. While rates of cases begin to rise, other rising rates are also on the horizon: sexual assault and domestic violence incidents. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Center for Student Wellness needs for you to be informed.
Experts suggest that countless domestic violence survivors could suffer unintended consequences as a result of this pandemic and the efforts to fight it. Isolation puts survivors at risk for increased abuse, sexual assault by partners, homelessness, reminders of past traumas and mental health issues. The Center for Student Wellness, CSW for short, is committed to providing support to those who are or have experienced interpersonal violence.
Our victim-survivor advocates provide free, confidential and trauma-informed support for members of our campus community. To contact the advocates, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are currently providing advocacy virtually via Zoom and by telephone appointments, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Every year, CSW engages the campus community in Sexual Assault Awareness Month, also known as SAAM. This is an opportunity for our university community to raise awareness around sexual harassment, assault, abuse and sexual violence. This year, we will continue to raise awareness virtually and invite each of you to join us. We strive to build a culture of consent, encourage healthy communication strategies and connect those in need to available resources.
A letter from the 2020 SAAM co-chairs
We have planned an interactive, supportive and educational way to start conversations, connect with peers, and to support survivors.
SAAM matters to me (Char) as an advocate for victim-survivors and as a human who has experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault. Having conversations about the topics related to sexual assault is extremely important. The more we discuss consent and healthy relationships, the more we can break down our systemic rape culture. SAAM also gives support and validation to survivors.
This year we have chosen the theme, “U ask for consent”, a spin-off of the nationwide slogan, “I ask for consent.” Being proud University of Utah students, we changed the I to U. So we ask, “how do U ask for consent?” We want to know! Share a picture of you holding a sign describing how U ask for consent on Instagram!
Through our SAAM messaging, we say, “I see you, and I believe you.”
Ultimately, I (Marissa) believe in the resiliency of survivors and that we can eradicate sexual assault. Now more than ever, we need to be mindful of how the current physical distancing circumstances can impact ourselves, survivors and those who may be in current domestic violence situations. Even though we can’t have in-person events, that doesn’t mean that we can’t continue with SAAM. Show your support by interacting with us online all month.
Together, let’s come together to empower and support survivors of sexual assault!
Char Leary, BSW victim-survivor advocate
Marissa Castillo, ACES peer health educator
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Follow @UofUWellness for Zoom links and educational posts
April 8 | Zoom Meeting for Challenging Rape Culture Workshop
April 13-18 | Healthy Relationships Week
Our ACES Peer Health Educators will be taking over to offer online dating tips while physical distancing and publish content on setting boundaries and healthy communication.
April 14 | Zoom Meeting for Healthy Relationships Workshop
April 20-25 | Building a Culture of Support Week
April 21 | Self-Care Instagram Day
For our survivors, remember, you are not alone and support is available to you even during these uncertain times. Thank you for joining us as we advocate during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We look forward to coming together as a campus community to further promote #oneU.