Break the Silence: Sexual Assault Awareness


T-shirts of many sizes and colors with phrases like “Break the Silence,” “No More,” and “You’re Not Alone” will hang with solemn pride in the campus center atrium throughout the month of April as a testament to the essence of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The Sexual Assault Prevention, Intervention and Response Task Force (SAPIR) at IUPUI launched the month-long campaign with two events this past Monday – the Clothesline Project and Ending Gender-Based Violence. Discussion at both revolved around sexual violence, human trafficking, and campus implementation.

T-shirts designed by students for The Clothesline Project.

T-shirts designed by students for The Clothesline Project.

The Clothesline Project brought in 101 attendees – a 35 percent increase from last year – and 50 new shirts to add to the display. Present at the event were IUPUI officers Heath Braun and April Mantel who want men and women to know they’re here to help.

“If somebody’s not comfortable, you need to call us. I’d rather show up and it be nothing than something,”  Officer Mantel said.

Yellow T-shirt that says "I will Stand up to: victim blaming, sexual assault, domestic violence, and shaming."

Yellow T-shirt that says "I will Stand up to: victim blaming, sexual assault, domestic violence, and shaming."

Both officers noted the point of coming to school is to get an education. The IUPUI Police Department provides an escort program and e-phones (the emergency buttons throughout campus) to ensure safety. The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes are intense 8-week accredited courses, currently for women only, that IUPUI students can take to learn what to do in the event of an emergency where fighting back would be the only option.

“Look out for each other,” said Officer Braun, as a reminder to be the intervening bystander.  

Sareen Lambright Dale also serves the IUPUI population as the Assistant Director of Sexual Assault Education and Prevention. One of her roles is to provide support to those affected by sexual assault as the campus confidential advocate where she provides information about campus and community processes.  

“Your reality is your reality and it’s valid,” said Maggie Clayton, senior majoring in media and public affairs at IUPUI and Woman’s Alliance Co-President, during the panel discussion on Ending Gender-Based Violence.

Students pose for a photo during The Clothesline Project after designing shirts to hang.

Students pose for a photo during The Clothesline Project after designing shirts to hang.

Clayton went on to explain that many women don’t report domestic abuse or sexual assault because they feel their experience wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

As the shirt of Sunnih Flores, a freshman at IUPUI majoring in business, read, “STOP the violence BREAK the silence.”

“The fact that we’re even talking about this is huge,” said Michael Hurst, the Executive Director of Legacy House – a nonprofit that provides free counseling to victims of violence.

Take a virtual tour of the center’s space here. Hurst admitted to remembering a not-so-long-ago time when this was a conversation kept dark and discussed only under the gravest of circumstances.

Now campuses have the courage to examine even lesser talked about, though equally important, human rights issues like human trafficking. The Ending Gender-Based Violence event gave a presentation on the subject.

The Indianapolis-based nonprofit, Purchased, tabled at the event. Their work involves reintegrating human trafficking victims back into the community. Education is the first line of defense for this modern form of slavery, where specifically children in impoverished areas between the ages of 12 and 14 are preyed upon.

Along with the already-mentioned organizations, The Julian Center, Center of Hope at Riley Children’s Hospital, and Methodist Hospital, and Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) were in attendance on Monday, as well.

These events were two of many for this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month at IUPUI. Others include “Rape Myths and Personal Bias” on April 14 at 2 p.m., “Take Back the Night Walk” on April 21 at 7 p.m., and “Denim Day” on April 27.