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Sexual Assault Awareness Week seeks open conversation on stopping attacks, violence

Hands for Hope and campus security will promote awareness for sexual assault through several educational and interactive events this week.

Sexual Assault Awareness Week encourages students to be aware of their own actions and how they affect others, said Hands for Hope president Christina Hughes.

“Realize that when you hurt someone, when you become abusive or when you sexually assault someone, that affects another life, that affects another human being,” she said. “You are mistreating another human being.”

Besides awareness, bringing healing and hope to survivors and encouraging others to intervene in potentially dangerous situations are goals of this week, Hughes said.

Tuesday’s highlights include Bringing in the Bystander, a bystander intervention program sponsored by campus security, at 2 p.m. in McWhorter 112 and Sexual Assault 101 at 5 p.m. in McWhorter 108.

Representatives from the Young Women’s Christian Association, a nonprofit and shelter for sexually abused women, will speak on domestic violence at 10 a.m. Wednesday in McWhorter 108.

Responding to Disclosures will be a discussion-based convocation at 11 a.m. in McWhorter 307 about how to respond if a friend tells you he or she was sexually assaulted. Campus security will also hold a self defense class at 1 p.m. in the Beaman Rec Gym.

Thursday includes A Philosophical Investigation of Sexual Assault by Belmont graduate Mackenzie Lefoster at 5 p.m. in McWhorter 112 and the first class of Rape Aggression Defense in Kennedy Hall from 6 to 9 p.m.

“What’s Love Got To Do With It,” a film about Tina Turner’s separation from her abusive husband and her rise to success, will be shown in the Bunch Multimedia Hall Thursday at 7 p.m.

Mercy Ministries, a women’s nonprofit, will hold a convocation regarding sexual abuse at 10 a.m. Friday in McWhorter 112, and a survivor of sexual assault will speak at the convocation “What it Means to be a Survivor” at 11 a.m. Friday in McWhorter 307.

“You can make people aware of statistics, but it’s the story that people connect with,” said Hughes. “It’s so amazing to get people to share their story.”

Although Hands for Hope wants as many students as possible to participate, to make a real difference within at least one person is the ultimate goal, said Hughes.

“It’s about the one person, not hundreds of people,” she said. “If we reach just one person, if one person gets a little bit of hope back, we’ve done our job.”

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