Today@Sam Article

Supporting Survivors Through Painting

May 3, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

art created at paint event By Victor Henson II

The Department of Victim Studies, SAAFE House and Montgomery County Women’s Center recently hosted their second annual Painting with a Purpose event in honor of sexual assault survivors for Sexual Assault Awareness month.

This event, which was introduced to the Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice by Shelly Clevenger, the department chair for victim studies, was created to help bring the SHSU and Huntsville communities together to support sexual assault survivors.

Once a year, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Department of Victim Studies offers an open invitation to community members to visit the College of Criminal Justice, paint and raise money for local resources. Once participants finish painting, they have the option to either keep their artwork or have it displayed at the SAAFE House facilities to be sold and help raise funding to build a new shelter for survivors of sexual assault.

Genesis Rodriguez, a victim studies sophomore, was happy to contribute her painting to SAAFE House.

“I wanted to come because I want to go into social work and help others. That’s something I’ve always been interested in. Just doing these paintings and donating can help someone else,” Rodriguez said.

student painting around a tableKaylee Alas, a criminal justice junior, also participated in the event.

“I just thought it was something that I could do to help. Hopefully someone buys it, so they get the money to help them further,” Alas said.

Clevenger, who hosted similar events at her previous institution, hopes to change how people discuss sexual assault.

“I want people to know that talking about sexual assault doesn’t have to be scary I think people are afraid to talk about it, and there is a sort of dark shadow over anything related to sexual abuse or sexual assault,” Clevenger. “While it is an awful crime, us not talking about it or being afraid of talking about it could have negative effects, like people not reporting it.”

This yearly event helps bring awareness to survivors and their stories while promoting open discussions about sexual assault.

The paintings are currently featured in the SAAFE House office atrium until the end of May for a minimum donation of $25. You can also make an impact in the community by volunteering at SAAFE House or donating items to their resale shop, where all the proceeds go to assisting survivors of sexual assault. To learn how you can help, click here.

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