Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Manhattan

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According to a study done by the National Institute of Justice, it is estimated for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.

During the month of April, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, along with several other organizations, is promoting public awareness of sexual assault for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. KCSDV has 30 statewide member programs in various communities throughout the state, and several of those communities will be hosting events to raise awareness.

“We do legislative work, and other stuff like that,” said Melissa DeDonder, communications coordinator for KCSDV. “We don’t actually work with the victims, but we help increase victims’ access to assistance.”

The purpose of KCSDV, according to their Web site, Kcsdv.org, is the prevention and elimination of sexual and domestic violence through a statewide network of programs providing support and safety for all victims.

“Basically, we help support our groups in helping them to reach people,” DeDonder said. “Help promote the issue and promote how to resolve it.”

There have already been two events earlier this month, and last night was the third in the series. The teen dating violence awareness event last night was held in Overland Park, Kan., at the Jewish Community Center, located at 5801 W. 115th St. The Outrage, a high school theater troupe, performed a 25-minute piece about teen dating violence, and Jami Goodwin, a survivor of teen dating violence, told her story to the audience.

The Outrage has two troupes from Blue Valley Northwest High School and Olathe Northwest High School, said Amber Bourek, public relations coordinator for SAFEHOME. Each troupe is made up of four men and four women.

Bourek said last night’s performance was made up of only three scenes. The members began their performance by giving statistics about teen dating violence. Then, there was a scene where the teens are at a party, and one of the members became a victim of teen dating violence.

Following the party scene, the troupe enacted a scene with the victim and her father after the party. For the final scene, the troupe then returned to the party scene, as if nothing had ever happened to the victim, but this time, the friends of the victim tried to help her.

“The Outrage gives many performances throughout the year,” Bourek said. “Most of the performances are in schools.”

She said the troupe, when performing at middle and high schools, has a question and answer session after the performance. Bourek also said though the performers are teens themselves, they answer the questions very well.

The script for the performance about teen dating violence was written by Allison Basinger, an education and prevention coordinator for SAFEHOME, who was once a theater teacher. SAFEHOME, Inc., is an agency which provides support for survivors of domestic violence in Johnson County, Kan.

“We are the only domestic violence center in Johnson County,” Bourek said. “We provide shelter services, a 24-hour hot-line, counseling, among other services. We also work with many other organizations to promote awareness.”

Though the city of Manhattan has its own sexual assault and domestic violence crisis center, the center will not be hosting any events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. However, K-State will be hosting its annual Take Back the Night march Thursday night, April 29th.

TBTN is sponsored by Ordinary Women, also called OW, a feminist group on campus. TBTN is an event staged all over the country in several different communities, and the purpose of the march is to symbolize women reclaiming areas that become predatory after dark.

TBTN at K-State has been annually held for the past 12 years, and it begins in Bosco Student Plaza. Those who attend the event march through Aggieville and end in Triangle Park, where there is a speech.

“It’s a rally and a march,” said Madeline Wetta, junior in women’s studies and English. “We do a clothesline project in the week leading up to the event.”

For the clothesline project, Wetta said, Ordinary Women has people witness their sexual assault stories on T-shirts. The shirts are hung up on clotheslines every day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the plaza. She also said the T-shirts will be on display at Triangle Park for the TBTN march.

For more information on KCSDV, visit Kcsdv.org, and for more information about the K-State organization Ordinary Women, visit Ksu.edu/ordinarywomen. TBTN will begin at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 29th.

Calender of Events
April 17 – Great Bend, Kan., at Courthouse
          Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
April 23 – Topeka, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship  
           Concealed Revealed Art Exhibition
April 27 – Kansas City, Kan., at YWCA of KCK
           Speak Out: Empowerment Through Spoken Word
April 29 – Kansas City, Kan., at Avila University
           Safe Sanctuaries: An Interfaith Clergy Conference
April 29 – Salina
          Proclamation Signing & Denim Day
April 29 – Abilene, Kan.
          Proclamation Signing
April 30 – Wichita at Old Town Plaza
          24th Annual Take Back the Night

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