Baylor Equity office kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness month event with vulnerable conversation

April is sexual assault awareness month and BU equity hosted Tim Mousseau (International Speaker on Sexual Violence Prevention and Masculinity) to speak on "Retaking Our Story: Reframing the Sexual Assault Conversation" on Tuesday April 6th. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Erianne Lewis | Staff Writer

Baylor’s Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX office held a virtual event Tuesday night with guest speaker Tim Mousseau, International Speaker on Sexual Violence Prevention and Masculinity, for the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Mousseau led a vulnerable conversation with the sharing of his sexual assault story during his presentation titled, “Retaking Our Story: Reframing the Sexual Assault Conversation.”

Mousseau said it is important to acknowledge that sexual violence can appear in various formats and should not be viewed as a far-off issue.

“A lot of times this is happening more localized, in our friend groups, in our peer groups and the communities that we are apart of in the workplace, all those types of things,” Mousseau said. “I think a lot of times when we hear of sexual violence, it seems like such an overwhelming or encompassing issue and it can feel like, ‘I don’t know how to make change around this,’ or, ‘I can agree that this is wrong and I know it’s terrible but I’m not sure of the very specific thing I can do, to try and change the issue.’ For me, a lot of times, it’s helping people recognize and realize, you have more power than you realize.”

Laura Johnson, associate vice president for equity and Title IX, said the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX office strives to foster a safe space for sexual assault survivors to share their stories as well as inform individuals about the seriousness of these topics.

“Our goals in creating these events are to raise awareness about these issues, help our community members to understand and define experiences, provide a foundation for people to have conversations on these topics, and connect people to support and resources,” Johnson said.

Mousseau said what he wants students to take away most from what he spoke on is to remember that it is important to ask yourself, “What can I do?” Ending sexual violence should not be placed solely on survivors because it will require the entirety of our society, Mousseau said.

“I don’t need everyone to make this their life’s work, but I think if everyone gave a little bit more thought to ‘what specifically can I do, in my surroundings and in my communities?’ [it would help significantly]. It’s gonna take action and it’s gonna take some effort,” Mousseau said. “If a lot of people did a lot smaller things, as opposed to having a few individuals, often time survivors, carrying all of the load, then we would really end sexual violence. It shouldn’t just be about me coming forward, it shouldn’t just be other survivors, it shouldn’t just be people who have made this their life’s mission. Really, this has to be a community wide effort, but we have a lot of community power.”

This event was the first of many planned events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month by the Baylor Equity office. Johnson said she hopes students leave the events with more knowledge on sexual violence awareness and related topics.

“We hope students leave the program with new understanding and skills to build a caring community, identify problematic behaviors, promote healthy relationships, access campus resources and engage in bystander intervention behaviors,” Johnson said.