Sexual Assault Awareness Month has existed officially since 2001, but the history of advocacy for victims of sexual assault is much more extensive. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) accredits the roots of this kind of advocacy in the United States to the Black women and women of color who spearheaded the Civil Rights movement. At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire delves deeper into this, focusing on the stories of Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor. This book is one of the many amazing novels included in our monthly display, which features powerful memoirs from survivors and thought-provoking analyses of the systems that allow sexual assault to thrive.
When discussing such a sensitive topic, it’s important to listen to the experiences of survivors to gain a deeper understanding and a greater sense of empathy. Our display shines a light on Chanel Miller (Know My Name), Édouard Louis (History of Violence) and Karyn Freedman (One Hour in Paris), among other strong voices. These authors discuss their journeys of recovery, proving they are more than their experiences, which can inspire other survivors as well as readers who have not experienced sexual assault.
Our display also features books that dissect the systems that contribute to the prevalence of sexual assault in various fields; We Believe You by Annie Clark and Missoula by Jon Krakauer tackle sexual assault on college campuses, while In a Day’s Work by Bernice Yeung discusses the violence against female farmworkers, domestic workers and janitorial workers–jobs which are often neglected in conversations about social justice.
There’s no limit to the way authors write about this subject, so we have included some unique methods of storytelling in this month’s display. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a poignant and immersive autobiography written in Southern dialect; Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf tells survivors’ stories in the form of a striking, rhythmic choreopoem; Laurie Halse Anderson’s Shout is a beautifully emotional memoir written in free verse.
The NSVRC reminds us that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime; this month, we strive to uplift the voices of some of these survivors and expose the flawed systems that contribute to these statistics, in hopes that other survivors may feel empowered and readers who have not experienced sexual assault may become more enlightened. We want to extend a special thanks to OxSAPA for collaborating with us on this display–their dedication to raising awareness on the topic of sexual assault is truly commendable! Be sure to support them during their Take Back the Night event, co-hosted by Emory SAPA, on April 23rd from 6:30-9:00pm!
Written By: Zaria Ford, Jaedyn Griddine & OxSAPA