Finding support during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Zeva Rosenbaum, News Contributor

Content Warning: mentions of sexual assault


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and there are a variety of upcoming events throughout the month on the OSU Corvallis campus, as well as ways to get involved.

Ray Sullivan, a Navy Veteran, member of the Center for Advocacy, Prevention & Education Health Team and SAAM Planning Committee member, said he volunteered to work with the committee as soon as he heard about the “opportunity to organize.”

“I got involved on the committee because I love our community’s commitment to SAAM and providing a safer and more equitable campus for all of our students,” Sullivan said.

According to Sullivan, some of the upcoming events include Trivia Night on April 5, an open forum on April 17 concerning services and feedback for OSU’s continuum of care, the SAAM Activity Fair on April 25, and Denim Day and Take Back the Night on April 26.

“OSU is committed to building a robust environment of care,” said Sullivan. “But in order to effectively create this community, we must have motivated student community members who are committed to building a program that they can believe in.”

Sullivan said CAPE is working on hiring a Peer Education Advisor to help build a community education team so students can get more easily involved. He said student feedback and involvement in community care is necessary for success.

Before becoming a student, Sullivan worked as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate during six of his seven years and provided care and guidance on policy for a tri-continental region, as well as helping to educate around 60 additional advocates. 

He said he “loved the opportunity and the privilege” of helping to provide care and a voice to people who most needed it, and that led to him deciding to continue helping survivors on the CAPE team while going to college.

According to Sullivan, the SAAM committee formed over years of combined efforts on the part of OSU staff and students who wanted to create a program for Interpersonal Violence Awareness and Prevention founded on “the principles of “community, safety and agency for our students.”

CAPE as it is now is the product of two OSU programs merging: the Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Team, Sullivan explained, and OSU supports these programs while professional staff provides guidance to student team members.

“(They were) two outstanding historical programs that now operate under a multidisciplinary scope of survivor care,” Sullivan said. “Survivor care and advocacy have been vital parts of our community for years under the guidance of a few different programs and organized efforts.”

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every 68 seconds, that’s over half a million victims each year despite sexual violence rates having fallen by half over the past 20 years. 13% of all college students experience sexual assault or rape. 

Sullivan said survivors and others in need of support can reach out to the CAPE team, many members of which are experts in advocacy and preventative education, as well as OSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services for 24/7 crisis care, emotional support, and more, all of which is confidential. Sullivan said off-campus resources include the Linn-Benton County Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) and Sarah’s Place for services like crisis care and survivor support. There are also resources like RAINN’s confidential hotline for survivors.

Sullivan encourages students to educate themselves on principles like bystander intervention and consent.

“In the simplest terms: see something, say something!” Sullivan said. “A well-informed and committed community is a community conducive to effective Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence prevention. Removing the stigma and lack of knowledge is the first step to building a safer community.”

CAPE’s professional staff was not able to provide immediate comments.


Please find the working schedule of SAAM events as of March 30 below, details may change:

Working Sexual Assault Awareness/Action Month (SAAM) Calendar

Wednesday, April 5th: RHA x CAPE SAAM Trivia Night

  • ●  6-8pm, MU Ballroom
  • ●  Join the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and Center for Advocacy, Prevention & Education
    (CAPE) Team for a SAAM trivia night to kick off the month’s events! Topics will include legislation, history, activism, campus and community resources, and pop culture. There will be prizes and free food! Sign up here to create or join a team.
    Monday, April 17th: CAPE, CAPS, EOA & OSU Assist Open Forum
  • ●  4-5:30pm, MU Horizon Room
  • ●  Join representatives from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), the Center for
    Advocacy, Prevention & Education (CAPE), the Office of Equal Opportunity & Access (EOA), and OSU Assist to ask questions and provide feedback about the services and resources each organization offers.
    Tuesday, April 18th: Chipotle Dine-Out
  • ●  5-9pm, Chipotle Mexican Grill (Monroe Ave)
  • ●  Coordinated by Fraternity & Sorority Life, proceeds from this dine-out will go to the Center for
    Advocacy, Prevention & Education (CAPE) Survivor Fund. Contributions support existing programs that provide direct assistance to survivors of gender-based violence, and sustain the development of programming that aims to create lasting social change and eliminate gender-based violence in our community.
    Tuesday, April 25th: SAAM Activity Fair
  • ●  11am-3pm, MU Quad
  • ●  Join the Center for Advocacy, Prevention & Education (CAPE), the SAAM Planning Committee,
    and campus and community organizations for a SAAM activity fair! The goal of the fair is to bring our community together to share resources, promote upcoming SAAM events such as Denim Day and Take Back the Night, and give people an opportunity to engage in SAAM-related creative activities.

○ Organizations tabling at the Activity Fair include the Residence Hall Association, Westminster House, Beaver Advocates, the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV), Students for Reproductive Freedom, Sarah’s Place, Diversity & Cultural Engagement, Hattie Redmond Women & Gender Center, CAPE, Operation Period, and more!

Wednesday, April 26th: Denim Day (all day)

  • Denim Day, typically recognized on the last Wednesday in April as a part of SAAM, emphasizes the importance of folks in power demonstrating their support for survivors. Denim Day originated from a 1999 ruling by the Italian Supreme Court overturning a rape conviction. The justices reasoned that since the survivor was wearing tight jeans when she was harmed, she must have helped the perpetrator remove her jeans, thereby implying her consent. The following day, the women legislators in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the

survivor—a particularly significant show of support because jeans defied the Parliament dress code. Denim Day has since grown into a national campaign that encourages our leaders, community members and students to wear denim to protest the misconceptions surrounding sexual violence and show their support for survivors.

  • Denim Day is the longest-running sexual violence prevention and education campaign in history. We invite our OSU community to take part this year by wearing denim to express solidarity with survivors and commit to action to prevent sexual violence on our campus. Tag @cape_osu in an Instagram story of your denim on April 26th to be entered into a prize raffle!

Wednesday, April 26th: Take Back the Night

  • ●  6-10pm, MU Lounge
  • ●  Take Back the Night is an internationally recognized event that brings communities together to
    believe and support survivors in a safe, confidential space. This year’s Take Back the Night at OSU will feature keynote speakers, student performers, a survivor speakout and an on-campus march.
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