Embrace Your Voice

The picture of shirts above are color coded to show the form of abuse and whether the victim survived their abuse situation. Photograph taken by Lizzie Williams.

The picture of shirts above are color coded to show the form of abuse and whether the victim survived their abuse situation. Photograph taken by Lizzie Williams.

Students, faculty and people of the community come together to express their emotions and learn more about Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Saddleback held a Sexual Assault Awareness Day on Monday, April 9. 11 different organizations attended the event and provided information for attendees. 

The Clothesline Project, one of the organizations at the event, allows victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence to express their emotions and tell their story. These shirts hang around school campuses to be viewed as a testimony to the problem of violence against women and men.

According to the NSVRC one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives in the world. In the United States, one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of violent sexual contact in their lifetime.

A white-colored shirt represents the women who died because of violence. Yellow represents battery or assault charges on women. Red, pink or orange represent survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Blue or green colors represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse. Purple symbols women attacked because of their sexual orientation. The last color black presents the women attacked for political reasons.

A representative of the organization said that the event started during the 1980s in the United States because people believed they needed a safe way to air their “dirty laundry”. She said it was to talk about things nobody wanted to talk about. The organization’s creation occurred in 2001 with only eight shirts and now has blossomed into around 1200 shirts.

According to 211, a nonprofit organization that participated in the event, every day thousands of people across the United States turn to this organization for information and support. 211 provide resources and information for financial, domestic, health or disaster related situations. Menisa manages the helpline and also a secretary for the referral specialist.

“I myself am a domestic violence survivor,” she said. “I started volunteering at 211 in Riverside, so when I came to Orange County I thought I should apply and fell in love with it.”

Courtney, a part of the resource department, manages the database for the organization.

“If you dial 511 you get traffic, 911 you get emergency services, but if you dial 211 you get a 911 for social services,” she said. “ It is for any health and service need. Pretty much everywhere in the United States has one.”

Jennifer Mendoza works for an organization called Radar, located in Santa Ana.

“We primarily serve Latino LGBT community,” she said. “We provide free HIV testing and other resources such as linkage to care. We also do PREP and PEP services.”

She explains PREP stands for pre-exposure prohylaxis, a pill you take every day in case of an exposure to HIV. PREP does not prevent sexual transmitted disease or pregnancy.

PEP stands for post-exposure prophlaxis, that needs to be prescribed to you after possible HIV exposure from sex or sharing needles. Individuals should take the full HIV regimen daily for 28 days after you know or suspect an exposure to HIV.

It works well if you take it prescribed and starts as soon as possible after 72 hours of exposure. Doctors also recommend you get tested for HIV to rule out any current infections.

These pills can lower your risk for HIV. Before you ask to take the pills, you should get tested for HIV or STDS and talk with a health provider.

Each year during the month of April, NSVRC raises public awareness about sexual assault. The resources and materials for the Sexual Assault Awareness Month are coordinated with NSVRC and anti-sexual assault organizations throughout the United States. Their mission consists of educating communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.