April 3, 2009
Sexual Assault Awareness Month features 'Take 5 for Respect' freeze April 13
People can help promote awareness of respectful and healthy relationships by taking five minutes out of their schedule from 12:10 to 12:15 p.m. Monday, April 13 in the Old Capitol Town Center in downtown Iowa City to participate in "Take Five to Respect."
The event is a form of street theater where people will "freeze" for five minutes in positions that signal healthy and respectful relationships, such as walking side-by-side, holding the door for someone, or two people looking at a book.
"The questions people have about what is happening create a wonderful forum for raising awareness and sparking discussions about healthy, respectful interaction as well as unhealthy, disrespectful interactions," said Alondra Canizal, the University of Iowa Rape Victim Advocacy Program's (RVAP) prevention education coordinator.
Canizal said this is just one of many activities planned during April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to help reduce sexual assaults year round.
The "Take 5 for Respect" freeze builds a human sculpture of sorts, Canizal said, adding the idea came from a similar event that was staged in New York's Grand Central Station.
Although anyone can come by to witness the freeze, those who wish to participate can register in advance, no later than Friday, April 10 by calling Canizal at 319-335-6001 or sending e-mail to email@example.com. Registration the day of the event is also welcomed. Participants are asked to reserve 11:50 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Monday, April 13.
Although RVAP has conducted awareness campaigns for many years in the fall and spring, each year they try new activities to cultivate awareness year round, according to RVAP Executive Director Karla Miller.
"RVAP receives calls on the Rape Crisis Lines throughout the year," Miller said. "However, spring and fall are traditionally the seasons in which we receive the most reports of sexual assault and other types of sex-related crimes outdoors."
There are likely many reasons for this, Miller said, including the fact that sexually aggressive men look for potential victims who are available, vulnerable and accessible. She added that while 85 percent of the reports that RVAP receives are from victims who knew and often trusted their attackers, strangers commit 15 percent of reported assaults.
"While RVAP awareness campaigns address assaults involving someone the victim knows, we also must draw attention to those perpetrators who prefer to find their prey on the street," Miller said. "When it is extreme weather, offenders are either in a dormant phase or take their sexually aggressive behavior inside where potential victims are and where it is more comfortable for the offenders."
According to national statistics, one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. From July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008, there were 49 rapes reported that are known to be UI related (out of a total of 266 rapes) and 79 total crisis calls known to be UI related (out of a total of 723 crisis calls) reported to RVAP's 24-hour rape crisis line.
Other major events include the following:
--The Clothesline Project, Wednesday, April 22, 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, co-sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega and RVAP, will feature 450 t-shirts designed by victims or, in the cases of homicide, by friends and family of the victims.
--Take Back the Night Rally, Thursday, April 23, is an opportunity for people to gather at 8 p.m. on the UI Pentacrest Lawn for a march supporting victims/survivors and making the streets safe at night for women symbolically on the march route. The rally is co-sponsored by the UI Women's Resource and Action Center and RVAP.
There will also be a Prom Promise Project coordinated in conjunction with local florists, where small cards will be distributed in corsage and boutonniere boxes for prom with a reminder to be respectful and communicate with your date. Local bookstores and libraries in Cedar, Iowa, Johnson and Washington Counties will also display reading materials on sexual assault and healing.
For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities and events visit http://www.rvap.org/pages/news__events/#saam_2009.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information or special accommodations to participate in any of these activities 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, resource and other information. The 24-hour Rape Crisis Line number is 319-335-6000.
Trained and certified RVAP sexual assault advocates provide free and confidential crisis counseling, support, information and referrals through the 24-hour Rape Crisis Line and in-person medical and legal advocacy, as well as individual and group counseling to victim/survivors of sexual assault (and related crimes) and their partners, friends and family members.
The Rape Victim Advocacy Program is also the home of the 24-hour Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline (ISAH), an outreach program that provides crisis counseling, information and referrals to rural areas and towns throughout Iowa who either do not have sexual assault centers across or do not know about their local resources, at 1-800-284-7821.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500