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ASU organizations support action against sexual assault during April

ASU will be holding events to raise awareness and promote action throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month


An ASU student holds a purple ribbon for sexual assault awareness at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 31, 2018. (PURPLE REPRESENTS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE)

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and organizations at ASU are holding events to take action against domestic violence and college sexual assault.

Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact or behavior occurring without the victim’s consent, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

The Sun Devil Movement for Violence Prevention, an inter-campus coalition of student organizations working together to create a violence-free community at ASU, is hosting a number of events throughout the month of April, including group discussions, speaker events and yoga classes.

The CounterAct Convening, taking place April 4, is part of a creative activism initiative that invites students, artists and scholars to work together to conduct 880 artistic actions to counter the 880 acts of sexual violence that occur in the U.S. everyday.

This number amounts to an American being sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, according to statistics from RAINN

Nik Zaleski, co-director of CounterAct, said the arts can be a useful way to engage people in difficult topics such as sexual assault.

“Having artistic experience can be medicine for people,” Zaleski said. 

The CounterAct initiative focuses on building a community of care between students, especially during the beginning of college. According to RAINN, 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur during the beginning months of college, which advocates refer to as the Red Zone.

Students and faculty are also welcome to wear denim to protest sexual violence on April 25 for Denim Day 2018

Sara Dow, a biological sciences junior and ASU Team One Love vice president, said the purpose of the organization is to raise awareness and educate the public on the warning signs of unhealthy relationships. 

Dow said support that you need from friends and family in order to seek help is one of the biggest factors in making a difference in sexual assault reporting and advocacy. 

“When there’s things out there like social media where everyone wants to portray a beautiful relationship, and you want to be like that, then it's hard to realize that you’re not or come to terms with the reality of what’s actually happening," Dow said.

Steven Tepper, dean of the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and a speaker at the CounterAct Convening, said that in a culture of sexual violence, the most difficult consequence is the isolation the victim feels. Raising awareness means being responsible to each other, he said.

Read More: ASU uses mandatory reporting to fight sexual misconduct on campus

“We see the work we’re doing at ASU to be part of ASU’s commitment to be innovative and advance new models of learning and change,” Tepper said. “This very widespread initiative that goes across ASU is a real model for how arts can be integrated to positively affect how we talk about, address and care for each other around the issues of sexual violence and a healthy culture of sexuality.”

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