April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and during this last week of April, three events will be happening in the Mankato community to help raise awareness of sexual violence. The first of these events is Take Back the Night, which will be held in downtown Mankato at the Civic Center Plaza on Tuesday, April 25, at 6 p.m. Laura Schultz, assistant director of the violence awareness and response program, explains what Take Back the Night entails:
“Take Back the Night is a rally, march, and a speak-out meant to break the silence around issues of sexual violence and intimate partner violence,” Schultz said. “We have a short schedule of speakers who provide information about resources that are available to victims or survivors. Then we open up the microphone to anyone who has been affected by violence within their own lives and invite them to come forward and share their story if they feel comfortable.”
There will also be a choir this year, performing a song by Connie Lim, who goes by MILCK. The song is about healing from sexual assault.
Denim Day will take place on April 26, a day in which women are encouraged to wear jeans to their place of work in solidarity with women affected by sexual assault.
Schultz explains the history of Denim Day, which started in Italy:
“In the 1990s, there was a young woman who was sexually assaulted, and after reporting to authorities, her case went all the way up to the Italian Supreme Court. The judge ruled that because her jeans were so tight, she must have helped the rapist remove her jeans. Therefore, the sex was consensual, and not rape. This infuriated and enraged many members of the Italian Supreme Court. The next day at work, women from the Italian Supreme Court wore jeans in solidarity with that victim, saying we need to end this absurd victim blaming, and we need to call for an end to rape myths.”
Denim Day is celebrated internationally, typically on the last Wednesday in April.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes will take place on Sunday, April 30. This event engages men in the community by inviting them to walk for a mile in high heels. This allows men to “metaphorically walk a mile in a woman’s shoes,” says Schultz. This event, she says, “raises awareness for organizations who are doing work to end gender-based violence.”
“We all know someone who’s been affected by sexual violence or intimate partner violence,” Schultz said, “so we should all be engaged in being a part of the solution.” It is important to show support for the victims and survivors.
Schultz made clear that there is help right here on campus, saying, “if there’s anyone who’s reading this who’s a victim or survivor who hasn’t felt safe or comfortable reaching out for help, know that there are resources available on our campus and in our community. I am just one of these resources.”
Schultz will help direct people to the right resources. Her office is located in the Women’s Center, on the second floor of the Centennial Student Union. If you would like to reach out to Schultz, you can contact her at 507-389-5127 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.