By Madison Heun, Angela White, Jade Henschel, & Alexis Beck
All four University of Wisconsin- Green Bay campuses display a “What You Were Wearing” exhibit to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is annually commemorated during the entire month of April and coordinated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). This year it is celebrating its 20th official anniversary. SAAM aims to bring awareness to sexual assault, harassment, and abuse to prevent these issues.
As of early March this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that one in three women internationally are exposed to sexual violence throughout their lifetimes. According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH), one in five women in college experience sexual assault. College men are five times more likely to be assaulted than men 18-24 not in college.
Caitlin Henriksen, UWGB’s Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator, says in the 2019- 2020 academic year, 22 students reported sexual assaults.
“This is a little low because of COVID-19 and students not being on campus. Not that sexual assault did not happen, but we did get fewer reports,” Henriksen says.
During April at all four UWGB campuses, a “What You Were Wearing” exhibit will be displayed by the Healthy Choices Task Force. “What You Were Wearing” includes a trigger warning and aims to shatter the stigma that sexual assault can be accredited to a person’s choice in wardrobe by displaying descriptions given by survivors.
Cassandra Matte, a senior at UWGB who walked through the exhibit, says, “I thought it was interesting. I feel like, in a way, it was almost triggering because if I had seen clothes similar to what I was wearing, I might have freaked out a little.”
One of Henriksen’s goals this SAAM is to address “rape myths” including but not limited to; 1) victims can be “asking for it,” 2) men cannot be assaulted, 3) you can give consent while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and 4) convincing someone to have sexual intercourse is not assault.
“There are so many myths, misconceptions, and a lack of understanding about what constitutes sexual assault, what causes sexual assault, and how people should react to sexual assault,” Henriksen says. “I am a firm believer that if you don’t understand a problem, you cannot fix it,” Henriksen added.
If you or someone you know has been assaulted, there are resources for you. To learn more, follow this link to the Wellness Center’s sexual assault webpage.