The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday February 2nd

Sexual Assault Awareness Month gives students the tools and resources to prevent sexual assault

<p>Laci Green gave a talk in the Great Hall about taking down rape culture on April 4th. The talk was&nbsp;presented by Delta Advocates.</p>
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Laci Green gave a talk in the Great Hall about taking down rape culture on April 4th. The talk was presented by Delta Advocates.

Holly Lovern, a gender violence services coordinator with the Carolina Women’s Center, said in an email the month is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the resources that are available to students on campus.

“(We) wanted to help kick off SAAM with a week of events and help engage people on campus engage in conversations about sexual violence, bystander intervention, consent and survivor support,” Lovern said.

Project Dinah hosted a benefit concert for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Anna Taylor, one of the organization’s co-chairs said it is important that students are educated about sexual assault.

“A lot of people come into college already as survivors of sexual or interpersonal violence and unfortunately a lot of people experience those forms of violence during college so we empower other students to be able to find on-campus and off-campus support to help them process those experiences,” Taylor said.

Lara Naughton, a sexual assault survivor and author of “The Jaguar Man,” did a reading and a workshop on campus that focused on compassion and narratives of survivors and perpetrators.

Naughton said she thinks Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important because sexual assault is still a difficult topic for people to discuss.

“The majority of assaults, sexual assaults, are committed against people or are people the perpetrator knows, and I think that adds a whole level of complexity and secrecy,” Naughton said.

Naughton said she hopes the month helps survivors of sexual assault face what has happened to them and what they are currently experiencing.

“A month when there is awareness and people can speak openly or are encouraged to speak and hopefully are heard, I think is very helpful because it breaks down some of these stereotypes or archetypes that people tend to keep in our mind,” Naughton said.

The Carolina Women’s Center is hosting several events including Raise the Bar, an event aimed at raising awareness of drug-facilitated sexual assaults; a HAVEN training and a Coffee Conversation about the experience of immigrant women in the United States who have been assaulted.

Shelley Gist, the program coordinator for the center, said in an email she hopes the events of the month do more than just raise awareness.

“I hope that students will walk away from SAAM not just more aware of the problem of sexual violence, but also feeling better equipped to do something about that problem,” Gist said.

Naughton said the most important thing she wants students to take away from the events during the month is that there is a community of people who care about them and can help them deal with the aftermath of sexual assault.

“Healing needs to be on your own terms and in your own way,” Naughton said.

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