SAPA hosts annual anti-victim blaming program
Members of Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates performed skits and held various discussions about victim blaming in the French Auditorium on Wednesday during their program, “That Slut Asked for It, Right?”
Before the event began, audience members were informed they could leave the room at any point during the program if things got uncomfortable.
The first skit included a robbery situation, in which a “detective” asked a victim of robbery an assortment of questions about their attire, previous reputation and whereabouts during the robbery.
The detective ended the barrage of questions with the statement: “If we didn’t know any better, we were thinking you were asking to get mugged that night.”
Royal Oak freshman Alexis Slade first heard about the program in her sociology class and attended the event for an assignment.
“The thing that stood out the most to me was that consent is the presence of a 'yes' and not the absence of a 'no,'” Slade said.
After the mugging skit, audience members were asked to analyze questions that seemed to be a part of the investigation and questions that seemed to place blame on the victim.
In the next activity, a SAPA member drew a table on a marker board, separating men and women and asked audience members to identify what both genders can do to avoid sexual assault.
At the end of the activity, the side of the board labeled “women” had 10 more statements than the male side. Some of the statements contained on the side labeled women included walking in groups and carrying a weapon.
SAPA members then explained the various reasons why it would be impossible for a survivor to prevent their attack – one of the biggest reasons being most assailants are someone close to the victim.
The group then showed a YouTube clip titled, “John McKay ‘Skirt’ Rape Crisis,” and held a short question and answer segment.
Every SAPA member in the room donned red t-shirts which read: “Ask Me Why I’m Wearing Jeans Today.”
April 23 is "Denim Day" in honor of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. A ruling by the Italian Supreme Court, where a rape conviction was overturned, inspired the day.
According to the judge, the survivor’s jeans were “too tight,” and therefore she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, implying consent. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against victim blaming culture.
“We subconsciously distance ourselves to make ourselves feel safe,” said Troy junior Gabrielle Sorge. “No matter what a woman does, a majority of society will think it’s her fault.”
There are 50 members on SAPA and two 24-hour chat services available to survivors. SAPA members receive more than 50 hours of training in order to facilitate the proper services for survivors of sexual assault.
“If anyone ever needs us, we’ll be there and if anyone wants us to put on a program for their classroom, contact us,” said Plymouth junior and SAPA member Kerry Macdonald.