It’s April which means…


It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month! There are lots of great events going on throughout the month at UNC, Duke, and in the community. Going to these events can be a great way to learn more about sexual assault, support survivors, and help make Carolina a safer community. Here are some highlights of the month:

Till Friday—Alliance Against Violence in the Pit

Have you walked around campus lately and seen everyone sporting awesome teal shirts? You definitely don’t want to be left out! Co-sponsored by Project Dinah and the Carolina Women’s Center, this week-long event seeks to educate UNC about the prevalence of interpersonal violence and provide resources. They are giving out 3,000 free shirts to be worn on Friday as a visible representation of UNC’s alliance against interpersonal violence.

Tonight, April 9th: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (Old Well, 6 pm)

Sigma Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma are hosting a one-mile march with all proceeds going to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. They will also host a dialogue about how people can be allies in preventing sexual assault. It’s a great way to get some exercise for an important cause!

Friday April 10th: Campus Connections: Bringing Together the Sexual Assault Response and Support Community at Carolina (Campus Y Anne Queen Lounge, 2-4pm)

Come meet the staff that supports students who have experienced forms of interpersonal violence for coffee, refreshments, and conversation!

Friday, April 10: Project Dinah Benefit Concert for OCRCC (Local 506, 10pm)

Come join Project Dinah for a benefit concert for $5. All proceeds go to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center!

Wednesday, April 5: Coffee Conversation on Consent (Campus Y Anne Queen Lounge, 5-6:30pm)

The Carolina Women’s Center & UNC Men’s Project are hosting a discussion (with coffee and refreshments!) about consent.

Monday, April 20: Screening of The Mask You Live In. Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture at Duke University, 6pm.

This documentary explores how boys are socialized to become men in America. Afterwards there will be a panel discussion featuring local activists. Don’t have a car? No worries–you can take the Roberson bus there!

Wednesday, April 22: Campus Conversation on Creating Allies Against Sexual Violence: Creating a Culture of Healthy Masculinities within the Greek Community (St. Anthony Hall, 207 Pittsboro St., 7-9pm)

St. Anthony Hall is hosting a campus conversation about Greek culture, being an ally, and healthy masculinities to empower everyone in the Carolina community to help change cultures of violence

Monday, April 27: How to Help a Loved One (Chapel Hill Public Library, 6-8pm)

Ever not known how to respond when someone tells you that they have experienced sexual assault? This seminar provides tips and resources to be a supporter.

Hope to see you at some of these events! Check out the whole SAAM schedule here.

Survivorship and Speaking Out

“Healing begins when someone bears witness.”

I love this quote, because it acknowledges both the power of speaking out and the potential healing offered by those who listen. When it comes to being a survivor of interpersonal violence, including sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking, there are a number of ways to speak out and a number of organizations with folks prepared and willing to “bear witness” to your experience. Even if you’re not interested in filing any charges against your assailant, either through the University’s Grievance Panel Procedures or a report with local police, sharing one’s story can be a powerful mode of healing.

One way allies can support survivors is by respecting survivors’ preferences about how they choose to “speak out”. Not every survivor will want to speak out the same way, and some won’t want to at all. How public an individual is about their experience of IPV does not determine their level of “survivorship” or their right to identify as a survivor. In that same vein, the amount or mode of “speaking out” about one’s assault is not indicative of how much an individual has healed from their experience. Learning that friends or loved ones have experienced interpersonal violence (IPV) can motivate allies to become involved in speaking out against IPV themselves, but it is important to not share a survivor’s story without their permission- even if you leave out names or identifying information.

Here are some ways survivors can “speak out”, anonymously or not.

In person:

OCRCC Shout Out!
Submissions due March 15
The Orange County Rape Crisis Center will host the 11th Annual Shout Out Against Sexual Violence on April 16, 2013. Survivors of sexual violence and those who care about them will have the opportunity to read works and perform pieces surrounding the issues of rape and sexual assault. If you would like to submit a piece to the Shout Out, please email Joey at or call 919-968-4647 for more information. Please indicate whether you will present your piece at the Shout Out, or if you would like a staff member or volunteer to present it on your behalf as an anonymous submission.

Support groups for folks who have experienced relationship violence and sexual violence are available at the Compass Center for Women and Families and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, respectively.

If you’re a student at UNC Chapel Hill, it’s important to be aware that under the University’s Policy on Prohibited Harassment, including sexual misconduct, and Discrimination, staff and faculty of the university are mandated reporters of incidents of sexual assault. Meaning, if you disclose or chose to share your story with a staff or faculty member they are required by federal law to report the assault to the Deputy Title IX Student Complaint Coordinator at the university. The Deputy Title IX Student Complaint Coordinator may get in touch with you to follow up and make sure that you are provided information about all of the options available for filing a report through the university or the local police.

On paper:

Blind Reporting at UNC- CH
For sexual assaults involving a fellow student at UNC Chapel Hill, a blind report can be filed with the University. This report does not require names and can be turned in anonymously. The only identifying information that is required is the last four digits of your PID. (This is used to ensure that the university does not receive any “double reports”.) You may fill out as much information as you are comfortable providing on the form. You can place a completed form in one of the anonymous reporting boxes available in the Student Rec Center or Rams Head Rec Center, mail or bring it to the Dean of Students office or email it to the Dean of Students Office at

Over the phone:

Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC)
The OCRCC hosts a 24- hour help line which can be reached by calling 1-866-WE-LISTEN (935-4783). Trained companions and OCRCC staff respond to help-line calls and are great folks to talk things through with, offer options for counseling, or just listen.

Compass Center for Women and Families
The Compass Center offers a 24 Hour Relationship Violence Hotline at 919-929-7122. Trained advocates and Compass Center staff can offer resources and/or a supportive listening ear.


Project Dinah’s Speak Out Blog
Submissions taken on an ongoing basis
The UNC student group Project Dinah (PD) runs a blog on which anonymous submissions of stories of sexual and interpersonal violence are submitted and posted. Please click the comments link of the post titled “testimonials” to share an anonymous testimonial. A site administrator will post your testimonial after it has been submitted. PD asks that folks who submit stories do not include any personal information that would reveal their or anyone else’s identity.

And it Was Wrong
Submissions taken on an ongoing basis
And it Was Wrong is a grassroots compilation of women’s experiences of sexual assault. Stories are submitted anonymously through the website; a few are posted online periodically. Rachael Goodman-Williams, the founder of the project, provides only one guideline for submissions: that they end with the phrase “and it was wrong.”

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network’s Online Hotline
If you’re hesitant or hard pressed to find a private place to chat over the phone, RAINN’s online chat offers trained volunteers who are available to chat with you online 24 hours a day.

Secondary Survivors of Sexual Assault

This April, honoring sexual assault survivors’ experiences and celebrating their healing is at the forefront of a number of Sexual Assault Awareness events at UNC. Another important component of sexual assault awareness is assisting those who have a loved one or intimate partner who has experienced sexual assault, also known as secondary survivors.

Survivors of sexual assault may tell a friend or significant other with whom they feel safe and comfortable before they talk to a professional. Even if the assault or abuse happened a long time ago, you could be the first person they have told and your reaction can have a big impact.

Often secondary survivors go through many of the same feelings that survivor’s experience. You can feel powerless, guilty, shocked, angry, or scared. It is natural to have these feelings when you learn that someone important to you has been assaulted or abused, but try not to let these feelings get in the way of focusing on what the survivor may need.

It is important to not deny the assault, blame the survivor or compare their situation to your own or that of another loved one. Every situation and person are different and may react to experiencing a sexual assault in different ways. Asking too many specific questions of your loved one may end up feeling like an interrogation. Think to yourself before asking a question, “Am I asking this for the survivor’s benefit or for myself? Do I really need to know this in order to be a support for them?”

Positive things you can do to support your loved one involve believing, comforting and listening to them, affirming that what happened to them was wrong, checking in with them to make sure they currently feel safe, and educating yourself on interpersonal violence. If the survivor is an intimate partner, do not shy away from conversations about sexual acts or positions they don’t feel comfortable engaging in, and respect their boundaries.

The emotions of being a secondary survivor can be overwhelming. If your feelings become too intense, the survivor may begin to comfort you. Thankfully, there are people that you can talk to, without compromising the privacy of your loved one. Consider joining a support group. If you are a survivor as well this may bring up latent feelings for you. You can visit UNC’s Counseling and Wellness on the third floor of Taylor Student Health or check out online support for primary and secondary survivors on the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s website.


Check out to learn more tips for supporting survivors of sexual assault and about Haven, a 4-hour training offered at UNC to equip members of the UNC community with tools to be effective and supportive allies to survivors of interpersonal violence.