Sexual Assault Art and Letter Showcase allows students to share experiences

Rosemary Chesney, Campus Carrier arts and living editor

The Peer Educators and BRAVE project partnered together to host the Sexual Assault Art and Letter Showcase event held on Wednesday. The event allowed Berry students and faculty to observe art, poems and letters created by fellow students discussing their personal experiences and thoughts surrounding sexual assault.

The event began by inviting people to view the artwork and letters created by fellow students depicting their journeys of healing through an encounter with sexual assault. Then, people were able to listen to a panel discussion including speakers from the Sexual Assault Center of North West Georgia (NWGA) and Ashley Demonbruen-Chapman, Berry Reducing Assault and Violence through Education (BRAVE) project coordinator. These speakers were then available for questions after the event. Senior Hope Huetter was the student supervisor peer educator in charge of coordinating the Sexual Assault Art and Letter Showcase event.

“I think it’s a really powerful event,” Huetter said. “Having artwork from the community is really powerful and gives us a personal perspective. I think it speaks a lot louder than somebody just talking to you about sexual assault. The real power of the event is the artwork and letters, and I that that is really the biggest takeaway.”

The main coordinators of the event were the six peer educators, including Huetter. The peer educators work at the counseling center to promote healthy habits concerning anything with mental health, including experiences with sexual assault. They began working on this event by planning for it, promoting it on social media, collecting artwork and letters from students and then vying for it to be CE credited. 

“The biggest challenge was collecting the artwork and letters from peers,” Huetter said. “It can be a little scary putting your journey out there sometimes. Because it’s a sensitive subject, it can be a difficult process sharing something so vulnerable.”

The peer educators also partnered with the BRAVE project and the Sexual Assault Center of NWGA. BRAVE project coordinator Ashley Demonbreun-Chapman and speakers from the Sexual Assault Center of NWGA participated by speaking in a panel at the end of the event and allowing students to ask them             questions afterwards. 

“I love this event because it is a way that someone can speak without holding a microphone,” Demonbreun-Chapman said. “It’s so easy sometimes from the outside imagine how we might respond or how we think others should respond to an incident. These opportunities are so important to give us a needed education on how faulty those assumptions     might be.”

According to Demonbreun-Chapman, the goal of this event was to first allow students and faculty to express and share  experiences in a way they might otherwise be able to. Another purpose of the event is to educate the community of what experiences with sexual assault are like and how to best avoid and prevent them. Freshman Ashlyn Davidson attended the event as well.

“I love to see and learn from this artwork and these people,” Davidson said. “It’s so cool to have a way to share these experiences anonymously.”

This event was held two years ago as well, during the 2020-2021 school year. While the majority of the artwork and letters showcased came from students this year, some were kept from the previous showcase and used also at this year’s event. All of the artwork and letters, however, came from Berry students, faculty and staff. 

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