Each October since 1997, Sexual Assault Services has sponsored a week dedicated to helping the Mason community work to end violence against women, and to honor its victims. The week brings awareness of sexual violence and dating/partner violence to campus. Initially, TOV was a part of one-day initiatives started by the Fairfax County Victim Assistance Network in 1994. This participation then developed into the weeklong initiative for the Mason Community. TOV Week events include the Clothesline Project and Mason’s annual Take Back the Night Rally.
The Clothesline Project
Developed in 1990, the Clothesline Project is a global effort to raise awareness sexual and intimate partner violence. Survivors and supporters can decorate shirts to honor victims and break the silence surrounding these crimes. The Clothesline is an educational tool for the community, a healing tool for survivors, and a call to victims that they are not alone. By designing a shirt, survivors and their supporters gain a voice and promote healing. For more information about the national project, visit ClotheslineProject.org.
Every year since 1997, George Mason University has participated in The Clothesline Project and currently has over 500 shirts. For the duration of TOV Week, shirts are hung daily in the groves surrounding Robinson Halls and the walkway in between Student Union Building I and Fenwick Library. Students can heal by creating their own shirts and passers-by can gain a deeper understanding of victim trauma. The project is especially eye opening for those who have never thought about sexual violence and dating/partner violence and its occurrence on the Mason campus.
The White Ribbon Campaign
In 1991, a handful of Canadian men started the White Ribbon Campaign to encourage men to work to end violence against women. The campaign and its efforts to educate men and boys have spread globally. By wearing a white ribbon men visibly demonstrate their pledge to “never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.” Through events and education, the campaign encourages men to respect women and act as a role model for their peers and future generations. To learn more, visit the White Ribbon Campaign website.
The White Ribbon Campaign at George Mason University occurs each fall during Turn Off the Violence Week. White ribbons are given out with attached information promoting awareness among men on the Mason campus. This campaign enlists the support of fraternities, student athletes, and other groups to raise awareness of the impact men can have on stopping violence.
Survivor Space began in 2000 as a way for survivors to join Sexual Assault Services in speaking out against sexual and domestic violence. Whether it is a recent or previous experience, students who are survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault, or intimate partner violence are welcome to find and offer support and encouragement. In this supportive and safe setting, participants can explore the impact that their victimization has had on their lives by relating with others who have experienced similar traumas and asking questions. Counselors and advocates are also available to help individuals interested in quietly discussing an incident or working through any difficulties.
Take Back the Night Rally and March
International grassroots marches and rallies have advocated against sexual violence throughout the past thirty years under the slogan Take Back the Night. The Take Back the Night Foundation was created in 2001 to support these efforts and to fashion a movement of awareness, empowerment, healing, and support. Sponsored rallies, marches, and vigils give voice to survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. The rally provides a safe place for women to celebrate the night without fear and creates awareness in the larger community. For more information, visit the Take Back the Night website.
George Mason University hosts a Take Back the Night annually during the fall Turn Off the Violence week. Started in 1997 by Sexual Assault Services, this event incorporates a rally with speakers, performances, and a march through campus to raise awareness of sexual violence. The rally is often co-sponsored with the Women’s’ and Gender Studies Department. In 2010, the night consisted of a series of speakers and performances and a march around the Johnson Center. The rally promotes education on campus and support of victims.
The Goddess Diaries
An uproarious and moving journey through the milestones of womanhood
In 2010, Sexual Assault Services included The Goddess Diaries as a finale event to the fall Turn Off the Violence week. Written by local playwright Carol Lee Campbell,The Goddess Diaries consists of eight short personal narratives about key milestones in the lives of girls and women; storytellers range in age from 11 to 65. From a first visit to the gynecologist, to surviving bridal registries, bad husbands, and personal violence, the monologues tell compelling stories, and, for a good cause. Interspersed between each woman's speech are music and dance performances which create a rich tapestry of words, sound and movement as expressions of the female journey. For more information, visit The Goddess Diaries website. Proceeds of the event help fund the Mason Victims of Violence Fund. Performers included members of the Mason community and local individuals. The event featured music by The Ruins, dances, and monologues.
The Vagina Monologues
In 1981 the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was established to bring awareness to victim assistance and issues. The week is celebrated across the country to generate greater support for victims of crime. Community members gain an awareness of the difficulties facing crime victims and are able to learn about resources in their own neighborhood. Historically the movement advocates for greater rights and protections for crime victims, as well as implementation of those rights. Every spring the week brings greater attention to this fight. For more information visit the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week website.
Victims’ Rights Walk in collaboration with the Aimee Willard Memorial 5k Fun Run/Walk
The Victims Rights Walk began at Mason in 1996. Sexual Assault Services, the University Police, and ROTC sponsor the walk to bring greater awareness and support to victims. Proceeds from the event support the Rape Aggression Defense Fund and Mason’s Victims of Violence Fund.
The Aimee Willard Memorial 5k takes place every spring on the Fairfax campus. Mason student-athlete Aimee Willard was raped and murdered on her way home from a night out with friends on June 20, 1996. The walk was founded in 1996 by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Patriot Club to support victims and raise funds for the Aimee Willard Endowment Scholarship Fund.
In 2005, Mason Athletics and the Patriot Club collaborated with Mason Police, ROTC, and Sexual Assault Services to combine both walks into a large event to promote Victims’ Rights Week, increase awareness, and maintain support for the scholarship fund. Proceeds also support the Rape Aggression Defense Program and the Mason Victims of Violence Fund. For more information, visit the Victims’ Rights Walk website.
Denim Day is a rape prevention education campaign, where we ask members of the Mason community – faculty, staff and students to make a social statement with their fashion statement and on this day wear jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault.
The History of Denim Day
ROME – ITALY, 1992: A 18-year-old girl was picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor for her very first driving lesson. After an hour of driving, she was raped and abandoned by him in alley. Undeterred, she reports the incident to the police and the case is prosecuted. The driving instructor is convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
1999: The driving instructor appeals the sentence. The case makes it all the way to the Italian High Court where the conviction is overturned and he is released.
WHY DENIM? The statement released by the High Court declared; “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them…. and by removing the jeans… it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” Enraged by the verdict, women of the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of parliament. As news of this decision spread, so did the protest. In April 1999, Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, established the first Denim Day in Los Angeles. Motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly did the same and a movement was born.
Wearing jeans on this anniversary became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual violence. Denim Day in LA has spread across Los Angeles County, the State of California, and throughout the United States - becoming a full-force national campaign - Denim Day USA. To date, millions of people have participated!
DENIM DAY at GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
Help us bring Denim Day to Mason by wearing your denim, distributing information, and decorating your office with information about Denim Day.