Counseling Center hosts virtual events for sexual awareness month

Krystal Ortiz, News Editor

The Counseling Center is hosting a series of events in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month from April 14 to April 30.


The events include “Messages of Hope and Inspiration,” “Trauma Informed Yoga,” “Demin Day” and “Cosplay is not Consent.”


The events were hosted by the Counseling Center and were designed to bring awareness about sexual assault to students and faculty.


“The overall goals for SAAM events are to promote social norms that protect against violence, to teach skills to prevent sexual violence, to support survivors and to foster an overall culture of respect,” Counseling Center staff and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Specialist Dr. Melissa Platt said. “All events are culturally relevant and evidence-based.”


Platt’s role in coordinating the series of events includedcollaborating with students and campus partners to organize, promote and facilitate outreach programs related to sexual assault prevention.


The COVID-19 pandemic required the events to shift to an online platform. The Counseling Center worked with other members on campus to adapt and modify existing outreach programs to allow for remote participation, according to Platt.


“Ongoing collaboration with departments throughout Student Life and the support and participation throughout the college administration has helped to make this year’s virtual SAAM a reality,” Platt said.


According to Platt, an exciting development in terms of outreach is the center’s Instagram account, @IonaCollegeCounselingCenter. The center’s new Instagram account is intended to promote social norms that protect against sexual violence by providing information on upstander interventions and mobilizing allies. The account also provides information on affirmative consent and resources and supports survivors through online interactive activities.


Through their new account, the Counseling Center collaborated with Love is Love to host LGBTQIA+ Sexual Assault Awareness Virtual Trivia using Instagram live. Platt shared that this event provided information on the disproportionate rates of sexual assault against LGBTQIA+ individuals and the importance and availability of LGBTQIA+ affirming services.


Another one of the center’s online interactive activities and the first event of SAAM, “Messages of Hope and Inspiration,” was held from April 14 to April 17 and was designed for participants to go on social media, post a message for sexual assault survivors and include the hashtag #SupportSurvivors.


“Trauma Informed Yoga,” was held on April 24 and was a yoga session designed for individuals dealing with trauma to reconnect and reclaim the body through movement and breath.


“Through the use of trauma-informed yoga individuals can establish safety and stability in the body, increase self-love and appreciation and build positive coping strategies,” Platt said.


Aside from SAAM, the Counseling Center also hosted the first ever “Empowerment Through Self Defense,” partnering with the Martial Arts Club, according to Platt. The program was designed to teach students how to build self-confidence and empowerment through self-defense.

The Counseling Center’s signature event, “Denim Day, was held on April 29 and aimed to bring awareness to victim blaming and destructive myths that surround sexual violence, according to Platt.


“Denim Day” required participants to dress in denim in honor of ending sexual assault. The significance of denim comes from acourt case where the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the justices stated that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the perpetrator take them off, implying that she consented. To support the sexual survivors, participants were supposed to wear denim and post to social media using the hashtags #SupportSurvivors, #MyJeansProtestViolence or #IonaDenimDay.


The final event was “Cosplay is Not Consent,” hosted on April 30. During the event a panel discussed the importance of consent and verbal communication. The center collaborated with Admirers of Illustrated Literature.