Various groups are using everything from shoes to bright blue T-shirts to get the public’s attention this week and kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center and several on-campus organizations have planned rallies, films and workshops throughout April. The center is scheduled to host a press conference and a kick-off rally, titled “Pathways to Peace,” today at the De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara. Spokeswoman Alena Donovan said Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-35th District) would attend the rally.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month was brought to California in 1996 when then-Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni (D-6th District) sponsored a resolution to designate April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in California. The resolution has been renewed each year since. In 2003, Assemblywoman Jackson introduced a resolution to renew it.
Today’s rally will feature a display of shoes.
“We will be using 350 pairs of shoes to represent each of the survivors we served last year,” Donovan said. “[The shoes] will form a pathway; on one side of the pathway will be facts and statistics about rape, and on the other side are suggestions of steps people can take in their community.”
Donovan said the center would bring the shoe display to campus Wednesday and lay it on the lawn in front of the Women’s Center.
A UCSB group, Students Stopping Rape, is holding its “It Affects Me” campaign this week on campus. The group is showing Abby Epstein’s documentary “Until the Violence Stops” tonight in Girvetz Theater at 8. Admission is free and an audience discussion is scheduled to follow the film.
The group is also planning a rally at the Arbor on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sarah Crowley, a senior geography major and student coordinator for the group, said the organization has grown out of a desire to start a campaign to inform the public of the effects of rape.
“We wanted to address how rape and sexual assault affect women,” Crowley said. “Men are affected differently; women of color are affected in different ways. Rape and sexual assault affect everyone on a college campus. Our environment includes rape and our environment affects us.”
Crowley said the group has been asking students to pick up blue “It Affects Me” shirts from the Women’s Center and to wear the shirts in support of the campaign. The group is also asking students to write one or two sentences on how rape has affected them. These anonymous statements will be read out loud at the Thursday rally while a ball of yarn is thrown back and forth among the audience, forming what Crowley called a human web to show the connections between people.
“We are connected through a real negative thing, but in the end, we put a positive spin on the connection,” Crowley said.
Susan Landgraff, a junior psychology major and media intern for the Women’s Center’s Rape Prevention Education Program, said Students Stopping Rape has also been asking people to sign a pledge to help the fight against rape.
“It Affects Me started as a way for UCSB to educate and promote understanding, whether you know someone or something happened to you,” she said. “Whether you were walking home or had your ass grabbed on DP and you feel bad about that.”
Take Back the Night, another student group, is organizing several events for next week. The events include a self-defense workshop, an open-microphone night, a day of workshops for rape survivors and a screening of “Sisters and Daughters Betrayed” – a documentary on Asian sex trafficking – followed by a discussion. The week is scheduled to conclude with a rally the night of April 15 in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park. The rally will feature bands, student performers, a march and testimonials. Friday will be a day of reflection at the Women’s Center.
Maria Saltzberg, a sophomore environmental studies major and co-chair of Take Back the Night, said the group is a nationwide organization that has been active at UCSB for over 30 years.
“We have been largely successful in educating the community about sexual violence and giving survivors a voice and protection,” she said.
Take Back the Night’s purpose is to inform people about sexual assault and protest what it calls a climate of fear, Saltzberg said.
“We aid women in finding and demonstrating their empowerment, provide a forum for women to make their voices heard and create an environment in which survivors of sexual assault can begin to heal,” Saltzberg said.
Max Anders, a sophomore sociology major and co-coordinator of Men Against Rape, said his group would hold a workshop during next week’s Take Back the Night events.
“[It’s] on irresponsibility, masculinity and why men are essential to the reduction of sexual assault,” Anders said.