SACIS promotes sexual assault awareness

Inanna Weller, Contributing Writer

The Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service stood strong Friday morning against 25 mph winds, educating people passing by the Doudna Steps about sexual assault awareness during Take Back the Day and SACIS on the Steps.

Take Back the Day included fun activities for students to participate in, such as giant Jenga, bags and chalk art.

The purpose of the two events was to gather the community together, recruit volunteers for SACIS and to show support for sexual assault survivors.

The volunteer table for SACIS on the Steps displayed pamphlets about how to sign up to volunteer for SACIS and what to expect at the required 40-hour training.

Take Back the Day is usually called “Take Back the Night,” but SACIS had to reschedule the event from Thursday night to Friday morning because of rain and fittingly called it “Take Back the Day” instead.

Taylor Diskin, the social justice and empowerment services coordinator at SACIS, said Take Back the Night started in the 60s in the United Kingdom.

Women were protesting against sexual assault, saying it was not reasonable for them to walk home feeling unsafe.

This walk developed in the United States into a larger movement, fighting against and protesting sexual and aggressive violence, she said.

“It is an important event that we do to show that we’re here for survivors and that they deserve to walk their campus in peace,” Diskin said.

The event is nationally recognized and presented differently around the world; Diskin said some countries honor Take Back the Night with marches and candlelight vigils.

Diskin said survivors of sexual assault should come forward only when they are ready. She said she wants them to know that there are people there for them who want to help.

Anne Pettit, a graduate student majoring in communication studies, said she started the 40-hour training to become a volunteer in January and has helped with many SACIS events like Take Back the Night and SACIS on the Steps.

She said the most important part of volunteering at SACIS is the people and seeing the passion, involvement and commitment, which is really inspiring. Something Pettit said she finds especially empowering is the way victims of sexual assault refer to themselves today.

“I think it’s really cool that nowadays you see a lot more people calling themselves ‘survivors’ of sexual violence instead of ‘victims,’ and I think that’s something that, you know, you claim your experience if you want to say you’re a victim of it. Yeah, that’s something horrible (that) happened to you, definitely, but especially through SACIS being able to provide resources, (it) is not uncommon to hear people call themselves survivors instead. (It is) really empowering,” Pettit said.

When it comes to empowerment, SACIS says it means advocating for survivors of sexual assault through methods of healing, coming together and supporting every survivor that comes to the agency for help.

Volunteer coordinator Stephanie Anderson said there are several ways to learn more about volunteering and the tasks of helping spread awareness. SACIS offers 40-hour training that can certify people to volunteer at the organization. This training includes practice with hotline calls and work within the agency that requires the volunteers to work with clients, she said. Pop-up trainings are offered throughout the year and are completely free.

“We want our volunteers to feel well equipped and prepared to take those calls, and being non-profit, we rely heavily on our volunteers,” Anderson said. “We have about 50 volunteers right now that have gone through the training.”

Anderson said she encourages any survivor to know that SACIS is a safe place for them; she said SACIS is there for them and they will support them throughout their entire journey.

Inanna Weller can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].