CARDV gears up to promote sexual assault awareness month

Organization plans to focus on ending victim blaming

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence has a number of events planned to promote the idea that "Consent is Sexy" but victim blaming is not.

Many of events are being held in conjunction with Westminster College and William Woods University — CARDV's partners in the Sexual Assault Task Force — and are aimed at education college-aged women in particular about the resources that are available to them.

"College-age women are the biggest victim population in sexual assault," CARDV Executive Director Erica Nanney explained. "We work with a lot of sexual assault survivors, many of whom are college age. Many of them come to us later down the road, and tell us they didn't even know about the resources available to them immediately after it happens."

Things get started Monday with the annual Clothesline Project from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Westminster campus. T-shirts decorated with messages against domestic violence will be on display.

Nanney and LeAnn Chapman, CARDV's volunteer outreach coordinator, said they are excited for the big kickoff event, the Consent is Sexy Awareness Walk, 4-6 p.m. April 2.

Students from Westminster and William Woods will don teal T-shirts and walk from their campuses to Memorial Park, where there will be a balloon release to symbolize rising above stereotypes on sexual assault and victim blaming. There also will be music and a presentation by guest speaker Danica Wolf, coordinator of the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Members of the community are invited to the ceremony at Memorial Park.

"The walk is focused on the students, but it's also a good kickoff event for the community because they're going to be walking through town," Nanney said. "I think it's going to start some conversations and hopefully set the stage for the rest of the month."

Other Sexual Assault Awareness month activities include:

•Guest speaker Jeffrey Bucholtz will give a lecture, "We End Violence," at 7 p.m. April 3 in the Coulter Science Lecture Hall on the Westminster campus which Nanney said will focus on consent and alcohol-related sexual assault.

•Working with Survivors panel at noon April 16 in the Marsh-Jones Dining Room on the Westminster campus. The panel will include Chapman; Matthew Palmer, the domestic violence investigator for Callaway County; a SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) nurse; and Kasi Lacey, the executive director of Westminster College's Wellness Center.

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