University of Montana and Missoula community members are invited to attend remaining events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which began April 1 with teal lights cast on UM’s Main Hall to symbolize support for sexual assault survivors.
The theme for April is “Strong Alone, Fearless Together,” showcasing the ways UM and the community provide advocacy, prevention and support for victims. All month long, UM’s Student Advocacy Resource Center and other local organizations are sharing resources on how community members can intervene in sexual assault and help victims heal from trauma. Events explore societal bias, intervention techniques, workplace harassment, myths about rape and more.
Remaining events this month include:
- 2 p.m. Thursday, April 15 – Indigenous SAAM Panel: “Healing Sisters Through Resiliency” and SAAM “Indigenous Sister” Virtual Campaign Premiere.
- 5:30 p.m. April 15 – Movie and Discussion: “The Mask You Live In.”
- Noon-1 p.m. Friday, April 16 – “Improve Your Flirting”: Workplace Harassment Prevention Series Part 2.
- Noon-1 p.m. Monday, April 19 – Panel: “Societal Bias and Acceptance of Harm.”
- Noon-1 p.m. Tuesday, April 20 – “Sex Ed is Sexual Violence Prevention.”
- 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, April 21 – “Bar Intervention.”
- 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 22 – Movie and Discussion: “Indigenous Women Keep Going Missing in MT.”
- Noon-1 p.m. Monday, April 26 – Panel: “Prosecution Against Rape Myths.”
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27 – “Advance Your Career”: Workplace Harassment Prevention Series Part 3.
- 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29 – Movie and Discussion: “When They Were Here.”
Ali Pepper, prevention education coordinator at SARC, said the month serves as a community call to action.
“For bystanders, each of us has a responsibility to take action and help combat sex-based harm,” Pepper said. “We would never recommend someone put themselves in harm’s way to prevent an assault, but there are opportunities to combat the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that enable higher-level, sex-based violence. A call to action includes fostering a culture of respect within our communities.”
SARC, Missoula Project Beacon, Make Your Move and the Graduate and Professional Student Association at UM have collaborated to coordinate the events.
Brenna Merrill, who runs Make Your Move, a campaign that engages allies to prevent sexual violence in the greater Missoula area through messaging, said the virtual and social media events make it easy for anyone to participate.
“In addition to showcasing workshops that we do – like the Make Your Move! Bar Workshop and SARC’s Bystander training – these events highlight so many key players who are doing their part to prevent and respond to sexual violence,” Merrill said. “There are collaborations with Indigenous leaders, victim service agencies, filmmakers, Instagrammers and even the pets at Western Montana Humane Society.”
Missoula Project Beacon sponsored an Indigenous Art Market and an All Nations Virtual Wellness Fair earlier this month. The project, housed within Missoula’s All Nations Health Center, aims to create a network of trauma-informed providers, services and culturally relevant care for Indigenous survivors of human trafficking.
Lauren Small Rodriguez, who directs Missoula Project Beacon alongside case manager Shayla Beaumont, said their goal is to increase Indigenous-led victim advocacy programs and services and work within Native communities on reservations and in urban areas. This month’s events are helping highlight that work.
“Our program understands how to connect with Indigenous survivors more than most agencies, who do not have enough Indigenous-staffed advocates or the training in culturally relevant care practices to provide services to our people,” Small Rodriguez said.
Merrill said as she works on Make Your Move, she often encounters other Missoula community members and businesses that are engaged in preventing sexual assault and who are dedicated to making the area vibrant and safe.
“SAAM provides an opportunity for everyone to get to experience what I already know is happening in our town on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “My hope for this month is that it continues to energize all of us to build deep connections and stronger relationships.”
For the full list of events, visit UM’s Student Advocacy Resource Center page.
Contact: Alison Pepper, coordinator of prevention education, UM Student Advocacy Resource Center, 406-243-4556, firstname.lastname@example.org.