March 31, 2008
Activities promote awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month
To commemorate the University of Iowa Rape Victim Advocacy Program's (RVAP) 35 years of service, as well as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, RVAP staff, advisory board and volunteers have planned several events in the community to honor victims and survivors of sexual assault.
"Sexual Assault Awareness Month has been an annual tradition for many years and is a nationwide campaign," said Karla Miller, RVAP executive director. "We hold events and conduct the awareness campaign for an entire month underscoring the importance of this issue."
The events begin with "Silent Witness" on Friday, April 4. Participants will gather at the Pentacrest area near Clinton Street at noon and will stand in silence from 12:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. in solidarity against sexual assault and in honor of those who have suffered sexual violence.
"The 'Silent Witness' event is important because it gives people the opportunity to show their support," Alondra Canizal, RVAP prevention education coordinator, said. "It's a very powerful display of intolerance for sexual violence against women.
Canizal said that because of awareness raised during this national month of observance, people find themselves talking about sexual assault and realizing what a widespread problem it is.
According to national statistics, one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. From July 1, 2006 through July 30, 2007, there were 52 rapes reported that are known to be UI related (out of a total of 284 rapes) and 86 total crisis calls known to be UI related (out of a total of 750 crisis calls) reported to RVAP's 24-hour rape crisis line.
The Panhellenic Association and the Rape Victim Advocacy Program are sponsoring "Silent Witness," which is one of a number of events throughout April to raise community awareness of sexual assault.
Other major events include the following:
--The Clothesline Project, Wednesday, April 23, is a visual display of shirts designed by victims of violence and their friends and family that will be on display at the UI Pentacrest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The display, sponsored by the UI Global Health Club and RVAP, will feature 450 t-shirts designed by victims or, in the cases of homicide, by friends and family of the victims. The t-shirts bear witness to violence against people who have experienced sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic and gender violence, hate crimes and murder.
--The Cup of Prevention Campaign, April 1-30, is a project co-sponsored by the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team, featuring displays with information on crisis intervention, counseling, hospital services, prevention tips and safety whistles in coffee shops. The coffee shops are venues where people congregate. They are encouraged to discuss these issues and express support for victim/survivors. The displays will be at the following coffee shops in Johnson County: Capanna Coffee and Gelato in Iowa City, House of Aromas in Iowa City and Coralville, New Pioneer Coop in Iowa City and Coralville, and Corridor Coffee in North Liberty. Displays will also be set up in coffee houses in Cedar, Iowa and Washington Counties.
UI students can also receive free safety whistles with safety tips cards in the Iowa Memorial Union and in UI residence halls. The whistles are also available year-round at fairs such as the Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival, the UI Health Fair and other venues.
Educational presentations will also be conducted at various student organization meetings and at Greek houses throughout the month.
In addition to Sexual Assault Awareness Month, RVAP will hold other events throughout the year in celebration of the 35th anniversary.
All events are free and open to the public. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact the RVAP office in advance at 319-335-6001.
For more information on RVAP, located at 320 S. Linn St. in Iowa City, visit http://www.rvap.org. The site provides information about statistics, education, victim services and resources. The 24-hour Rape Crisis Line number is 319-335-6000. RVAP offers free and confidential information, support, advocacy and counseling to victim/survivors of sexual assault and their partners, friends and family members. Trained and certified sexual assault advocates provide information, phone counseling, in-person medical and legal advocacy, individual and group counseling, and resources and referrals.
The Rape Victim Advocacy Program is also the home of the 24-hour Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline, an outreach program that provides crisis services across Iowa, at 1-800-284-7821.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500