By Scott Lariviere, Staff Writer
Tuesday October 18th in the Grand Reading Room, a free event was hosted by LiveWell: Office of Health Education, Promotion, & Wellness and the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality.
Present to welcome guests that evening was Dr. Juli Parker, Assistant Dean of Students and the Director of Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality, and Beth-Anne Guthrie, MPH Assistant Director Health Services, LiveWell: Office of Health Education & Promotion and Wellness.
The event featured a showing of the documentary Audrie and Daisy. The film chronicles the stories of Audrie and Daisy, two high school teenagers who were sexually assaulted in 2012 while attending parties. Included in the film is the story of Daisy’s friend Paige Parkhurst, 13, who was also sexually assaulted.
Audrie Pott of Saratoga, California, was 15 years old when she attended a party where she was sexually assaulted by 3 boys.
Pictures of the event were taken and sent to friends. After a barrage of social media abuse and bullying, Audrie Pott took her own life.
Daisy Coleman of Maryville, 14, and her friend Paige were also sexually assaulted. Coleman survived after attempting suicide because of the trauma of the event and the aftermath.
After the documentary presentation, the audience had the privilege of welcoming Daisy Colemna, Delaney Henderson, and Jada Smith; all of whom were featured in the documentary, and victims themselves.
The three women are part of an organization called SafeBAE, BAE standing for Before Anyone Else.
SafeBAE’s mission is to educate communities about sexual assault and violence in relationships. They also stand as a support for victims of sexual assault. The focus of the group is to educate middle school and high school students about sexual assault, their rights as students, and to inform of resources to help victims to recovery.
Their presentation included questions for the audience to raise their hands in response. Everyone in the audience took part as they raised their hands to answer the questions of the presenters. Of the questions the audience was asked were: “Does anyone know what ‘consent’ means?” Another question asked was, “Do you know what Title IX is?” Some members of the audience shook their heads to this question. The presenters then explained to the audience the rights students have under Title IX to be protected from sexual violence.
One of the questions posed by an audience member highlighted recent news of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s recent comments. However, the group did not comment on any political questions. Instead, they reiterated that sexual violence is something to take seriously.
The audience was encouraged to take part in helping the youth in their local community by raising awareness of sexual violence and the resources out there for victims.
SafeBAE’s website is SafeBAE.org.
At the end of the presentation, the presenters asked for a favor from the audience. Audience members were invited up to the front to pick up a piece of paper and a pen to write a “love letter” to a young teen who was fighting for her life in the hospital.
While the presentation predominantly covered High School sexual assault, they offered two resources for college students who may be victim to sexual assault. One is http://www.Rainn.org, which is a 24-hour anti-sexual assault organization. Another is http://www.loveisrespect.org which serves to empower youths to end dating abuse.
When the presentation concluded, members of the audience submitted their “love letters” and the presenters remained to answer more questions.