Sexual Assault Awareness Month


As we approach the end of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we can reflect on the events held this month by PASA (Pards Against Sexual Assault) through the I Ask campaign. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center launched this campaign for the month of April in an effort to “raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.” “I Ask” represents that consent should be a normal and healthy part of everyday life.


Throughout the month, PASA has been hosting, sponsoring and co-sponsoring events that take on the themes of SAAM. The a kick off event invited students on campus to sign the pledge to end sexual assault of campus. Earlier this month, Tom Woods, a survivor of sexual violence, as well as Dr. Susan Hannan, a psychology professor who researched the interaction between PTSD and sexual violence spoke to students about their wisdom.


Susan Hannan:

Lafayette professor, Dr. Susan Hannan, enlightened her community with the effects and causes PTSD on sexual assault survivors. Although her research and class, Abnormal Psychology, class at Lafayette dives deeper into a conversation of PTSD, the discussion still busted myths and presented facts of PTSD for survivors of sexual assault or violence. Much of her presentation focused on which symptoms present themselves, how symptoms both emerge and fade, and other risk factors involved in increasing the rate of PTSD or prolong someone’s recovery.


Her discussion also focused on the difference in response time between trauma survivors and trauma survivors with PTSD. It showed that PTSD survivors have prolonged and elevated stress levels. The focus of the research she presented showed that “negative responses” to someone about their trauma increases the likelihood of PTSD and detrimental to a proper recovery for sexual assault survivors.


While no one is perfect and many are not professionally trained, her advice was to respond with “I believe you.” While you may want to ask how and what happened, or report and do everything within your power to solve this, her words of wisdom showed that their recovery cannot be dictated by you. In order for these survivors to feel control and safe again, which many struggle with, their recovery is on their own terms. The words, “I believe you,” are a few of the ways you can show a survivor that.


Tom Woods:

Tom Woods is a survivor of sexual assault as well as a recovering alcoholic. Woods discussed the impact that sexual violence has on an individual. He addressed the stigma surrounding male survivors, explaining that when he told several individuals about his experience, they responded by calling him names, such as “homo,” or “faggot.” Woods struggles with severe PTSD, proven by brain scans that show damage to his amygdala and other regions. His story was incredibly dark; however, he discussed how he has risen above his hardships, empowering survivors to know that things will get better.


Coming soon: SAAM Finale!

On May 1, PASA will be holding a SAAM finale event on the quad from 5-8. There will be food, an open mic, and a guest speaker. PASA invites everyone to join the festivities, and reflect on the impact that sexual misconduct has on so many.