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Sexual Assault Awareness Month highlights education and support, while challenging misconceptions

More than 120 t-Shirts with handwritten messages of support for victims of interpersonal violence and sexual assault hang in the atrium of the Willard-DiLoreto building at Central Connecticut State University. Organized by Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, Wagner for the past month has been providing opportunities for CCSU students to create the shirts. The shirts will remain hung through May.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
More than 120 t-Shirts with handwritten messages of support for victims of interpersonal violence and sexual assault hang in the atrium of the Willard-DiLoreto building at Central Connecticut State University. Organized by Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, Wagner for the past month has been providing opportunities for CCSU students to create the shirts. The shirts will remain hung through May.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and social workers want to stress that sexual violence is an issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender identity, or socioeconomic status.

Maria Busineu is the Associate Director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut. She said it's important to educate people and not dismiss sexual abuse with jokes like, “‘Oh, women want the attention.’ Or ‘they say no, but they mean yes.’ Understanding that sexual violence is a very serious and affects people in many, many ways."

Eva Vrdoljak, of Central Connecticut State University’s Committee on the Concerns of Women, writes a message of support for victims of sexual assault on one of more than 120 t-shirts with handwritten messages being hung in the atrium of the Willard-DiLoreto building at Central Connecticut State University. Organized by Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, Wagner for the past month has been providing opportunities for CCSU students to create the shirts. The shirts will remain hung through May.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Eva Vrdoljak, of Central Connecticut State University’s Committee on the Concerns of Women, writes a message of support for victims of sexual assault on one of more than 120 t-shirts with handwritten messages being hung in the atrium of the Willard-DiLoreto building at Central Connecticut State University. Organized by Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, Wagner for the past month has been providing opportunities for CCSU students to create the shirts. The shirts will remain hung through May.

And at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) there are planned events for the month. Jamaal Wagner, is the Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU. He organized a program called the ClotheslineProject where students paint and display shirts to give a physical manifestation of violence statistics and remind victims and survivors there is help.

"With the Clothesline Project, I wanted to do it on denim day as well to show support to the CCSU community for survivors and victims," Wagner said.

Wagner hopes to start a new beginning of compassion and care for survivors.

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey roughly one in four United States women reported completed or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime.

Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at Central Connecticut State University, has organized, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, a presentation of more than 120 shirts with handwritten messages of support for victims of sexual assault.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at Central Connecticut State University, has organized, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, a presentation of more than 120 shirts with handwritten messages of support for victims of sexual assault.

While sexual abuse can impact anyone, Busineu said almost 30% of her current clients are Latin American women, and men are now coming to speak up about traumatic experiences.

"We have children, unfortunately, and I work with people in their 80s,” Busineu said. “My caseload is about half male now. Most of them are older and were assaulted or abused as children."

Maria said her organization is trying to break the vicious cycle of staying quiet.

“Part of the things that we've done in the past, and continue to do, is to work with bystander intervention," Maria said. "Because sometimes people want to help or do something, but they don't know how to say it.”

Wagner said he is adding free program training for students interested in working at crisis hotlines this summer.

If you or someone you know are the victim of sexual assault and would like to help, call the statewide 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-888-999-5545 

Some of the more than 120 t-shirts with handwritten messages of support for victims of sexual assault hang in the atrium of the Willard-DiLoreto building at Central Connecticut State University. Organized by Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, Wagner for the past month has been providing opportunities for CCSU students to create the shirts. The shirts will remain hung through May.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Some of the more than 120 t-shirts with handwritten messages of support for victims of sexual assault hang in the atrium of the Willard-DiLoreto building at Central Connecticut State University. Organized by Jamaal Wagner, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Specialist at CCSU, in conjunction with The Clothesline Project, Wagner for the past month has been providing opportunities for CCSU students to create the shirts. The shirts will remain hung through May.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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