Penn State Scranton hosts events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

graphic of a colored background with the words Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Penn State Scranton's Counseling and Pschological Services department and the Human Development and Family Studies program have partnered to offer various activities around campus to share facts, statistics and resource information.

Credit: Shannon Williams

DUNMORE, Pa. — As April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Penn State Scranton is stepping up to raise awareness and provide support for survivors of sexual abuse with a series of events throughout the month.

Coordinator of Counseling and Psychological Services Sarah Smith shared insights into the theme for this year’s awareness month, “Building Connected Communities.”

Smith highlighted the efforts of the Health and Wellness and Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) departments in organizing various activities around campus to disseminate facts and statistics about sexual assault.

One of the standout events, scheduled for noon on Thursday, April 11, in The View Cafe, is a therapeutic art activity called “Freedom Flies,” organized by HDFS Assistant Teaching Professor Melissa LaBuda and Smith.

This event aims to provide students with resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month while engaging in an expressive art exercise. Participants will create symbolic representations of their burdens and transformation through artwork.

Regarding the intersection of LGBTQIA+ rights and sexual assault awareness, Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Emily Glodzik emphasized the importance of addressing both issues. “I am glad that CAPS and HDFS chose to have this event during Pride Week, because although LGBTQIA+ rights and sexual assault awareness are distinct in and of themselves, they intersect in significant ways,” Glodzik said.

This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme, “Building Connected Communities,” underscores the importance of fostering safe, inclusive and equitable environments. It emphasizes addressing social and structural determinants of health to promote safety and well-being for all individuals.

Statistics presented during Sexual Assault Awareness Month highlight the prevalence of sexual violence across various demographics, underscoring the need for ongoing awareness and action.

According to RAINN, statistics show that:

  • One in six women will experience an attempted/completed rape.
  • 54% victims are aged 18-34.
  • Every 68 seconds a sexual assault occurs in the U.S. alone.
  • Transgendered folks are at higher risk of being sexually assaulted.

Additionally, according to results from a 2022 University Park survey, “19.6% of undergraduates and 7.7% of graduate/professional students at University Park reported being the victim of at least one instance or attempt of sexual assault, which is a slight increase (0.6%) for both student populations since the 2018 survey. These findings vary by campus and results are available for review.”

The University encourages students and employees to utilize the resources available, including educational materials, support services and avenues for reporting incidents of sexual misconduct.

Local support is also available through organizations like the Women's Resource Center in Scranton, which offers comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and related crimes in Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties.

Additionally, the annual march, “Take Back the Night,” will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at People’s Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College, located at 501 Vine St., in downtown Scranton. This event aims to break the silence surrounding violence and will feature keynote speaker Marissa Cohen. It is a free event open to the community, organized annually to raise awareness and support survivors of sexual violence.

As Sexual Assault Awareness Month unfolds, Penn State Scranton urges its community to join in building connected communities that promote equity, respect and safety for all.