C.A.R.E. Week educates campus about sexual assault

Throughout the years, Boston College’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) has dedicated itself to providing women in the BC community access to social justice programs and support for the attainment of their personal goals. This week, the WRC kicked off its five-day educational series titled C.A.R.E. (Concerned About Rape Education) Week on Monday, April 8.  The week aims to raise awareness about sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

According to statistics compiled by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYCASA), at least 1 in 4 college women will be a victim of sexual assault during her academic career. Moreover, at least 80 percent of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim. Such shocking statistics can fly under the radar in the face of overly-publicized announcements of drug and alcohol abuse on college campuses. The WRC hopes that through CARE Week, BC students can deepen their knowledge of issues of rape on campus and the affect it has on the community.

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Photo courtesy of the WRC

The programs and events aim to educate students about the prevalence of rape and sexual assault both on and off campus and include topics such as the definition of consent, ways to recognize and navigate unhealthy relationships, how to be a proactive bystander or help a friend who has survived a sexual assault, and destructing the stigma associated with sexual assault survivors.

Throughout the week, the students are also offered information about resources on- and off-campus available to them, such as SANet (Sexual Assault Network).

Photo by Fatin Yousif

Photo by Fatin Yousif/Gavel Media

The week started off with The Clothesline Project, an awareness-raising initiative for survivors of sexual assault and/or domestic partner violence, where students write supportive messages on t-shirts to be hung up in O’Neill Plaza throughout the week.

Other events include a panel on sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, the showing of a documentary titled “Flesh,” which addresses sex trafficking in the United States (co-sponsored by REACT), and “In Our Own Voice,” a performance-style reading of monologues written about the stories of female veterans in the military (co-sponsored by UGBC and LSOE).

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Photo by Fatin Yousif/Gavel Media

The highlight of the week, “Take Back the Night,” will be held Wednesday, April 10, at 6 p.m. in O’Neill Plaza. The powerful event will feature the stories of BC students who are survivors of rape and sexual assault and who will bravely share their stories in order to increase consciousness of these crimes and educate the BC community.

“This event always draws the largest attendance,” said Keun Young Bae, staff member at the WRC and the student director of CARE Week and A&S ’13. “It is an opportunity for the BC community to show support for the survivors who speak at the event as well as those in the audience who may have experienced, or know someone who has experience, sexual violence.”

Young believes that the response from the Boston College community to CARE Week has been generally positive.

“We work very closely with representatives from student organizations and offices on campus to co-sponsor most events during the week, which is a contributing factor to the diverse audience,” she said.

CARE Week events have been well-attended thus far with 60-80 people attending just the events in the past few days.

Young attributes the particularly high attendance to last year’s events to the controversy that occurred with Barstool Sports’ dismissive comments about rape, which she believes has “certainly got the conversation started.”

“It is great to see many students from diverse backgrounds and interests attend our events, especially Take Back the Night,” said Young. “I think the week provides an opportunity for the BC community to think critically about any misconceptions they may have towards these issues, learn about resources, and offer support.”

More information about CARE Week and the specific events can be found online on the Women’s Resource Center’s website.

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