BYU Sexual Assault Awareness Week fosters empowerment, healing

BYU students gather around the Women’s Services & Resources booth at the Healing and Wellness Expo in the Wilkinson Center. Students learn about the multitude of services available to them on campus. (Bailey Bushman)

During BYU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week, events such as survivor testimonies, expert-led workshops and community dialogues created an atmosphere of education, support and belonging.

Events throughout the week were organized by the Title IX Office, BYU Women’s Services and Resources and BYU Sexual Assault Survivor Services.

To kick off the week, BYU Women’s Services hosted an awareness and resource gallery inside the Wilkinson Center Garden Court on Monday, Jan. 22. Students were given information to dispel myths surrounding sexual assault and discovered survivor resources.

Tuesday, Jan. 23 brought an event called Fizz N’ Flourish, where students sipped on their favorite sodas while engaging in discussions about healthy relationships. This interactive session promoted awareness of dynamics that contribute to positive and respectful connections.

The Healing and Wellness Expo was held on Wednesday, Jan. 24. it showcased various approaches to individual healing and wellness. Students participated in activities and experiences designed to promote overall well-being, emphasizing the importance of holistic healing approaches.

“Therapy is not going to look the same for everyone. The body, mind and spirit heal differently, so it’s important to try different things. There are so many coping mechanisms, whether it be nutrition, exercise, meditation, coloring or just taking time to be mindful,” Jackie Nunez, BYU sexual assault survivor advocate, said.

At the Healing and Wellness Expo, students also learned from the BYU Dietetics Association. The association recommended adopting a health-conscious approach to food for mental and emotional resilience.

“A diet high in protein fiber and healthy fats is great with weight loss, muscle gain and overall health. Fiber, omega-3s and probiotics decrease inflammation, which decreases anxiety and depression levels,” Sarah Powell, a junior in the Dietetics Association, said.

On Thursday, Jan. 25, the focus shifted to engage men in the conversation surrounding sexual assault. Students learned from Steve Smith, a licensed psychologist.

There was a unique event on Friday, Jan. 26 called “Ice Cream and Consent.” Students gathered to learn about consent while indulging in BYU Creamery ice cream. This lighthearted yet educational finale highlighted the importance of open conversations about boundaries and respect within relationships.

Across all of the events, resources and informative sessions, the overarching theme was a call for unity and support.

”You do not have to be a survivor to come talk to us or ask for help. No one should face the challenges related to sexual assault alone, and the multitude of available resources underscores the commitment to creating a campus culture that prioritizes empathy, education and collective well-being,” Nunez said.

The organizers and advocates want students to know that they can come forward for help without hesitation.

”It’s helped me, so it can help anyone,” senior psychology student and Women’s Services volunteer Marie-Ann Witt said.

Those affected by sexual assault can find resources on the Title IX page.

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