April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

*Editor’s Note: This story was written by Olivia Minzola.*

BLOOMSBURG, PA – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and some Bloomsburg University Huskies have made it their mission to lend both a helping hand to the annual movement and lend an ear to all sexual assault survivors. “Strike Out Against Sexual Assault,” a baseball game held on BU’s campus on Apr. 21, was just one way in which the Huskies worked toward their mission.

“While ‘Strike Out Against Sexual Assault’ was not specifically a ‘free speech’ event, it was essential that all students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to voice their concerns and disapproval of such behavior,” said Malik Muhammad, coordinator of the LGBTQA Resource Center on campus and fellow organizer of the “Strike Out Against Sexual Assault” event.

Other organizers and creators of the campus’s celebrated event included the Bloomsburg Huskies’ baseball team and Albra Wheeler and Monica Johnson of the Women’s Resource Center.

When asked why the LGBTQA Resource Center decided to continue participating in the event, Muhammad responded with, “The LGBTQA Resource Center is dedicated to standing up against all forms of sexual misconduct for people of all gender identities. And statistically speaking, the LGBTQA community is disproportionately affected by sexual assault, especially transgender women of color.”

Muhammad also believes that it is important that sexual assault survivors feel heard. Many, if not all, countries have not approached sexual assault prevention in a polite matter and, because of this, survivors are often found blaming themselves after incidents occur, said Muhammad. If survivors feel heard, many believe that internalized victim blaming will cease.

Anna Olivieri, a freshman studying English Literature at Bloomsburg University, insisted that it is important to encourage her generation and the generations to speak up about social issues affecting society, such as sexual assault, racism, or homophobia.

“Victims of sexual assault find it hard to come forward because they are afraid their story won’t be heard. Telling their story also means having to relive the experience by putting words to what happened. That is why it is so important to create safe platforms through events such as “Strike Out Against Sexual Assault” where victims’ voices are ensured the safety and recognition they deserve,” said Olivieri.

“Strike Out Against Sexual Assault” debuted in the spring of 2017, after the Women’s Resource Center created BU’s personalized campaign titled “Huskies Don’t Harm.”