Teal ribbons and denim in April send powerful message about sexual violence
“He said he’d never do it again.”
“I’m too ashamed to go to police. What will people say?”
They are like disturbing lyrics to an even darker song – things people say after sexual assaults. Surviving the painful act is one thing. Dealing with the lingering memories is another.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) reports one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of sexual violence.
The sobering statistics are among reasons Clemson University joins the nation in placing focus on the heinous acts throughout the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Clemson’s Office of Access & Equity created a list of special events as part of its ongoing services offered to students, faculty and staff.
“A show of support may begin with wearing a teal ribbon (the universal symbol of survivor support) all month,” said Morgan Danyi, Office of Access & Equity interpersonal violence prevention graduate assistant.
Danyi is the chair of Clemson’s SAAM planning committee. She said the team worked diligently with campus partners to provide events that elevate awareness throughout the month of April and beyond.
More than 200 students gathered in Old Main (Tillman Hall) the night of April 9 to hear Tim Mousseau speak on “Retaking our story: reframing the sexual assault conversation.” Male students at Clemson made up nearly half the audience for Mousseau’s address.
“Mousseau led a deep and vulnerable conversation on sexual assault, drawing from his experiences and countless interactions with others,” Danyi said. “He provided our communities with an understanding of the background information needed to facilitate healthy conversations, and he shared resources to assist in the survivor recovery process.”
Mousseau said his mission is to ensure no one goes through what he went through. The speaker delivered more than 300 keynote addresses on sexual violence to audiences across the country. He said as a survivor, researcher and former director of human resources, he is equipped to help businesses, corporations, conferences, and colleges “create cultures that are inclusive, welcoming, and conducive to success.”
“We believe Mousseau’s message left students feeling prepared to create a culture of compassion while realistically facing an issue prevalent on college campuses across the country,” Danyi said.
SAAM organizers encourage the Clemson family and the general public to attend events and outwardly express support for survivors by wearing teal awareness ribbons throughout the month of April and wearing denim Wed., April 24 to debunk the notion that people are assaulted because of what they wear.
Additionally, a “Survivor Speak Out” event is scheduled Tues., April 16, 6 p.m. at Old Main Auditorium. Due to the sensitive nature of this event, no video or audio recordings will be allowed. On April 19, 11 a.m. in the Union’s Student Senate Chambers, the conversation continues with an emphasis on “Respect/Love from a Feminist Perspective.”
“To survivors, we hear you, we honor you, and we support you. To our community, thank you for continuing to show support for survivors and advocating for change,” Danyi concluded.
SAAM committee members, PCAC, CAPS, and Foothills Alliance will hand out ribbons, buttons, and other awareness materials at the Survivor Speak Out. Individuals, colleges, departments, and organizations may also email Megan Fallon at firstname.lastname@example.org for ribbons and related material.
The Office of Access & Equity is part of the Division of Inclusion and Equity at Clemson. It presented programs and events for SAAM with support from Counseling and Psychological Services, It’s On Us, Healthy Campus, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Safe Harbor, the Pickens County Advocacy Center, and Foothills Alliance.