Content warning: sexual assault and domestic violence
April marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a month dedicated to raising awareness and providing surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence. University of Connecticut students Shivani Padhi and Damiane Gaskin, along with the entire UConn Urban Impact Club, hosted their former president and recent graduate, Le’Asia Gaskin, to engage in a meaningful discussion surrounding sexual assault.
As a Crisis Response Advocate and Campus Advocate at Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury, former women, gender and sexuality studies student and soon to be master student in the same field, Gaskin has devoted many years to learning about sexual assault and has spent much of her time helping victims. Her presentation delved into the differences between prevention and awareness, what to say when someone confides in you, along with statewide and UConn resources.
Le’Asia Gaskin explains that many times people don’t take the next necessary steps because both people and institutions will not believe a victim’s story.
“Sometimes universities look at their institution as just an institution, and they forget about the people that make up that institution,” Gaskin said. “It’s definitely important to show that you believe someone.”
She encourages people to say, “It’s not your fault” if someone discloses their story, and you may not know what else to say.
“That is one of the most effective things that you can say,” she said. “If you forget anything that I say in this presentation, ‘it’s not your fault’ is definitely something to think about if someone happens to disclose information that they have been assaulted or are in a domestic violence situation with their partner.”
Le’Asia Gaskin defines sexual assault as “sexual contact or behavior that takes place without explicit consent.” She emphasizes that consent should be enthusiastic, and that silence does not correlate to consent. One should verbally say yes, and even if they do initially, it should always be able to be retracted if one chooses.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is really about raising awareness, whether that be through events or discussions. Some famous events that take place nation-wide are Take Back the Night, the Red Flag Campaign, Denim Day and the Clothesline Project. The University of Connecticut hosts several events through the month of April that are dedicated to raising awareness. Here are a few:
- Voices by Mackenzie Doss (4/14 7 – 8 p.m.)
- From Childhood Sexual Abuse to Campus Sexual Assault (4/15 3:30 – 5 p.m.)
- Know My Name – Chanel Miller (4/18 7 – 8:30 p.m.)
- Ending Sexual Violence: Take Back The Night (4/20 7 – 10 p.m.)
- UConn Sexual Health and Wellness Fair (4/25 1 – 5 p.m.)
If you are in need of Statewide Resources, look no further:
- National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
- Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- Statewide Hotline: 1-888-999-5545
- Spanish Hotline: 1-888-568-8332
- CT Legal Services: 1-800-453-3320
- Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling
- Sexual Assault Crisis Center for Eastern, CT
- Domestic Violence Crisis Center Stamford
- Dean of Students
- Jenn Longa (Assistant Dean of Students for Victim Support Services and Bystander Initiatives)
- Protect Our Pack
- Title IX Office
- Mental Health Services
- Students Services Center
- Stamford Mental Health Resource Center
If you, or someone you know, needs help, please reach out to the resources listed above.