The University of Houston-Victoria is hosting Take Back the Night and Denim Day for the first time to raise awareness and educate the public about ways to prevent sexual violence.
The UHV Counseling Center has helped organize events in Victoria for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month along with Mid-Coast Family Services, Victoria County Sheriff’s Office, Victoria Police Department, Golden Crescent CASA, The Harbor and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The national theme this year is “It’s Time … to Talk About It” and focuses on healthy sexuality and child sexual abuse prevention.
“It is important to talk about sexual assault because it’s more common than people realize,” UHV Victim Advocate Elena Torres said. “Talking is also a way for victims to heal from their experience.”
The first Victoria event is “Take Back the Night” on Tuesday. It will be from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room of the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The event is free and open to the public.
Attendees will read stories and poems written by sexual assault survivors and hear from Rick Gipprich Jr., the communications director at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. Local agencies will have booths set up for more information and free counseling during the event.
“Some attendees might have blocked memories that resurface after hearing another survivor’s story, so having people onsite to offer counseling and resources will be helpful,” Torres said.
According to takebackthenight.org, one in three females in the world has been, or will be, a victim of sexual assault.
UHV also will participate in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 21 to 27. An April 23 ceremony will honor victims of violent crime and express appreciation for the law enforcement officials who helped them. It will be at 5:30 p.m. at Parkway Church, 4802 John Stockbauer Drive.
On April 24, UHV will participate in Denim Day, a national day where people wear jeans as a visible sign to support sexual assault victims. The university is encouraging employees and students to wear denim that day as a way to bring awareness to the campus.
“Denim Day is in honor of an Italian woman who was sexually assaulted,” Torres said. “The judges ruled that because the victim wore tight jeans, she must have helped her attacker remove them, which would imply consent. We wear denim to show that it isn’t about what you wear.”
As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the group also has organized the distribution of cocktail napkins and posters to Victoria bars. The items will educate people about prevention of drug-facilitated sexual assault.
Part of UHV’s participation is funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant to help prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus. For more information about UHV’s involvement with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, contact Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org or 361-570-4141.