Women’s Center advocates for Sexual Assault Awareness month

Olivia Apa, Staff Writer

Throughout the month of April, the Women’s Center has several activities scheduled to help spread awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Recognizing this as a time to support sexual assult victims throughout and beyond the Marquette community, the center will be affixing teal ribbons all around Marquette, along with hosting a number of events, including teal day, an NMU skill builder and a community initiative called “Cup of Prevention.”

“The Women’s Center is a place to empower individual people’s choices and promote self-efficacy,” Madison Meehling, sexual assault advocate at the Women’s Center, said. “At the end of the day, we’re here to support whatever decisions you make and give you as many options as possible so you feel empowered.”

The Women’s Center, located at 1310 S Front St., houses many resources for sexual assault victims, including connections with Title 9 officers if victims would like to open an investigation, information about filing a legal case, individual support and other valuable resources. 

“We want [survivors] to have options. Especially after being through a sexual assault, where options and power have been taken away,” Meehling said. “We do everything we can to give that power back.” 

Meehling has met with survivors through hospitals, where she has talked with them about their experiences and given them options for moving forward. She has also met with them at local law enforcement agencies like the NMU police department. 

“We’ve met [at the police department] with students before. That’s typically when they are going to report an assault,” Meehling said. “We can be there for that investigative interview and support them, offering breaks if needed.” 

Meehling typically works one-on-one with survivors, educating them on legal processes along with helping them develop a personal safety plan. 

“I have seen people grow so much throughout their time at the Women’s Center. They have been able to change their whole lives around,” Meehling said.

While the main purpose of Sexual Assault Awareness month is to support victims and survivors, it is also an opportunity to encourage individuals to engage in hard conversations revolving around the sensitive topic.

“Something that we really want to draw into our community is that survivors are here,” Meehling said. “They can be so unexpected but we want them to feel supported.” 

The Women’s Center is hosting several events throughout the month, giving community members a chance to become involved in the advocacy surrounding sexual assault awareness. 

Coordinators at the Women’s Center are encouraging everyone to wear teal, the official color of sexual assault awareness, on April 5. Also, the Women’s Center will be hosting a discussion in Jamrich 1322 about the stages and entities involved in the reporting of a sexual assault case on April 6 at 6:15 p.m. 

From April 18 to 22, local coffee shops will be participating in the “Cup of Prevention.” Through this initiative, coffee shops will be donating a portion of their proceeds to the Women’s Center for sexual assault survivors. 

The Women’s Center has also arranged for educational booths to be arranged at select coffee shops. The first booth will be located at Dead River Coffee on April 20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., where those interested will have access to educational pamphlets and answers to any inquiries. Blossom Bird Bubble Tea will also be hosting a booth on April 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“The month of April is really hard for victims and advocates, sexual assault is an uncomfortable topic that is hard to talk about and be informed about,” Meehling said.

In addition to supporting all survivors, Meehling notes that the Women’s Center hopes to bring an educational component to the community as well.

We want them to know we see you, we hear you,” Meehling said. “Your story matters.”