The Simpsonian

#SARAweek raises awareness of sexual assault on campus

by Laura Wiersema

SARA Week kicked off after Easter break on Tuesday, April 7 with the showing of “Brave Miss World” at 7:00 p.m. in Principal Black Box.

The 2013 documentary follows Linor Abargil, Miss Israel who was crowned Miss World just six weeks after being abducted, stabbed and raped by her travel agent in Milan at age 18. The incident was reported and a trial was held, but Abargil kept silent about it from then on.

About ten years later, Abargil launched a website encouraging other women to tell their stories in the process of healing and making this crime known. Somewhat against her family’s judgment, she started speaking publicly and privately with women about their stories, but it became too much for Abargil to handle and she had to stop the project.

To aid in the process, Abargil became more religious and got married while going to law school. When her attacker’s trial for parole came around, she sought out the other two women he had raped, looking for their support. Finally, she retraced her steps of that tragic night on the final road to healing.

For those interested in the movie but were unable to attend the event, “Brave Miss World” is available exclusively on Netflix.

Throughout the week, SARA partnered with Crisis Intervention Services from Oskaloosa for various activities and support.

Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SARA saw it as the perfect opportunity to host their big spring event. Jordan Kenkel, president of SARA, said the goal of the week is to raise awareness and educate Simpson students overall.

“Women aren’t just the only victims. We’re trying to raise awareness that it can happen to anyone at anytime,” he said.

SARA chose to show “Brave Miss World” because they felt that Abargil was a good representation of what the group is about and what they stand for.

“She shares the same message that we do: that it can happen to anyone at any time,” Kenkel said. “We try to make people aware that it doesn’t get reported a lot and that’s why these support systems are so huge. A lot of victims rely on that support system, so I think she’s a really good advocate.”

Throughout the week, SARA also sold t-shirts and told anyone who purchased one to wear it on Thursday. The shirts said “I support the 22%” representing the 22 percent of students that reported being sexually assaulted on Simpson’s campus in an anonymous survey done in the spring 2014 semester.

They also spread awareness for SARA through table tents and an informative booth in the Kent Campus Center.

“Each event kind of portrays a new message, but we still have one purpose and that is to help people voice their opinions and get their thoughts out if they wish,” Kenkel said.

Making SARA’s presence on campus known is a goal of the organization in order to reach the greatest number of potential victims and bystanders. There is a struggle with adequate support, however, due to the delicate nature of the subject matter.

Lauren Myers, a member of SARA, explained why.

“I think for victims it’s nice for them to know that they’re not alone and that Simpson supports them and that they can be supported here on this campus.”

SARA Week was an overall success, as was evident by the sheer number of people wearing the neon yellow shirts across campus on Thursday. SARA members and other supporters hope those numbers can make Simpson’s campus a safer, more welcoming environment for survivors and put an end to sexual assault here at Simpson. 

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