Walk the Walk immerses students into the harsh reality of dealing with sexual violence

Attendees were immersed into the stories of fictional sexual assault victims at the RSVP Center’s event.
The Women’s Center at MU hosts many events including the Walk the Walk event held on Oct. 16, 2018. Courtesy of Women’s Center Mizzou

MU students communed at the Women’s Center on Oct. 16 to participate in Walk the Walk, an event aimed to increase awareness about relationship abuse and sexual assault. Divided into groups of four, students followed an assigned fictional character’s experience dealing with sexual violence.

With the given characters in mind, participants walked from station to station, choosing which decisions their character made throughout the story. Everytime the character went through a traumatizing experience, the organizers encouraged students to collect a Band-Aid to symbolize it. At the end, they would count how many Band-Aids they gathered.

“This exercise leaves the participant with a better understanding of the true complexity of sexual violence and the lasting impact it has on the survivor and their loved ones,” Liz McCune, associate director of the MU News Bureau, said.

Walk the Walk covered a variety of topics such as the legal repercussions, emotional impact and frustrating bureaucratic process assault victims experience. One station in the activity exposed participants to rape kits doctors use on victims to garner evidence. Some steps include plucking head and pubic hair, fingernail scrapings and swabbing various body parts for bodily fluids like blood, semen and saliva.

One of the organizers at the event mentioned that rape kits often stick with the students long after Walk the Walk.

Currently, the Missouri Attorney General office sits on over 5,000 unprocessed rape kits, despite receiving a near $3 million grant to process and track the kits, the Columbia Missourian reported on Oct. 1.

According to a 2015 study on sexual assault on the MU campus, “30.8 percent of MU’s senior females have been victims of nonconsensual sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation.”

Since the study, MU has made a concerted effort to curb that number, implementing policies such as Citizenship@Mizzou and required Title IX online training.

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, the organization behind the event, aims to bring awareness to sexual violence issues through their Green Dot program and events like Walk the Walk.

“One of the initiatives of the RSVP Center is the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program, which helps people learn about sexual violence and how to help prevent it from occurring...Immersion events like this are just one of many types of opportunities to engage in learning about power-based personal violence,” McCune said.

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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