Content Warning: This blog post and videos contain stories of interpersonal violence, such as sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence.
Many Bennion Scholars served on this year's #uofuSAAM committee. As part of the Bennion Center, the Bennion Scholars program exists to connect the potential of students to the power of community. They recognize the civic purpose of all academic disciplines as well as the knowledge that thrives in communities. The program encourages its scholars to take passionate action to catalyze personal growth and sustainable impact, creating world-changers and life-long civically engaged citizens. To learn more about the program, click here.
Louise Nelson, Bennion Scholar
For those who are survivors of abusive relationships, sexual assault and harassment, or rape, those experiences often follow them everywhere they go. Thoughts are all encompassing. Was it my fault? How did I let this happen to me? I thought he cared about me? I thought she was a teacher and a role model, why would she do this? It is hard to share these thoughts, stories, and feelings with others who haven't been through the same thing for fear they don't understand. Often when one does it becomes how they are seen by the rest of the world. The victim, the abused, and the hurt. The message of this video, however, shares the opposite. It shows that the individuals are not victims. They are survivors, and in fact more than that. They show that while these experiences happened to them they are not going to let it define them. The world shouldn’t see those who have experienced sexual assault as victims. They are powerful warriors who have overcome mental, emotional, and physical challenges and are capable of turning something awful and difficult into something empowering and powerful.
Audri Dara, Bennion Scholar
There are so many people out there, so many survivors of sexual assault, who most of us would never suspect. We often assume that women are the the victims when it comes to sexual assault, but that isn’t always the case. It’s important to realize that ANYONE can experience violence. No matter someone's gender, race, religion, cultures, class; it can affect anyone. This particular video emphasized the fact that it is predicted that 1 out of every 6 men have been sexually abused or assaulted. It’s crazy to think about and is not often recognized. But that is why we need to raise awareness and create an environment where people feel comfortable to share their experiences. It is incredibly important to let people know that you are there for them and they have a supportive environment. Because we know, this isn’t their fault, and they shouldn’t be treated as such.
Neelima Madhu, Bennion Scholar
Men are not the primary focus of sexual abuse, especially in the media. I’ve seen a lot of movements and awareness surrounding women and sexual assault but not much about men. There are a lot of expectations for men to carry themselves as masculine as possible. Men are expected to carry themselves as strong and powerful at all times. Boys have to ask if it is OK to cry or to say that something bad is happening. Many of them will be ridiculed for expressing emotions. This video breaks those stereotypes. Reggie was attending Kansas State football and was drafted into the NFL. Football was his therapy, but it was hindering his healing. Reggie speaks about how “toxic masculinity” can prevent actual conversations, healing, and support. It is so empowering to have someone like him speak about issues considered taboo in our society.