Sexual Assault Awareness Month Goes Virtual
April 27, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Veronica Hoff
Because of social distancing and event cancellations, the Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) Committee at Sam Houston State University turned to online platforms to continue supporting survivors and encourage bystanders to intervene in what remains a local, national, and international social problem.
According to the Campus Sexual Assault Series research compiled by SHSU's Crime Victims’ Institute in the College of Criminal Justice, approximately 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
The SHSU SAAM committee, comprised of University departments and organizations and community partners, is dedicated to creating a culture of awareness, promoting a culture of consent, and educating individuals on how to discourage and prevent sexual violence.
During the month of April, participants had options to attend a virtual rally, join in on documentary watch parties, live-stream programs and prevention workshops, and participate in digital campaigns on social media, such as the “Dear Survivor Digital Art Showcase.”
“Coping with sexual assault takes a toll on the person and community. Creating beauty through art is not only healing but empowering for survivors (and others),” said Andia Azimi, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “Creating art also helps address the stigma tied to sexual assault. No one should ever feel ashamed or guilty about being assaulted, but unfortunately this is the message that some people get.”
Azimi is serving on the SAAM Committee for her second year and enjoyed helping engage the community in educational content while still practicing social distancing.
“Art showcases are a way to fight problematic narratives on sexual assault and to create a safe space. In the current stressful times, being able to use technology to unite our Bearkat community for something good can be very helpful to our students. It shows that we are serious about creating a healthy and safe environment here at SHSU and that there is space for everyone,” Azimi said.
SHSU is also home to the nation’s first Department of Victim Studies under the College of Criminal Justice. In addition to the work already being done in the Criminal Justice and Criminology department, the Department of Victim Studies will continue the commitment in advancing research on victimization issues in Texas and training the next generation of professionals. You can find reliable sources of research and links to local and national resources with the Crime Victims’ Institute. The institute is housed within the College of Criminal Justice to provide information for agencies that provide services to crime victims' in the state of Texas.
For anyone in immediate need, you can contact 24-hour crisis hotlines with the Montgomery County Women’s Center at 936-441-7273, the SAAFE House at 936-291-3369 or 936-327-2513, or the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.
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