LACASA hosting series of events on sexual assault awareness

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LACASA Center is hosting three events this spring to increase awareness about the myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual assault. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The mission of LACASA includes helping victims of interpersonal violence and providing educational programs to increase community awareness. LACASA’s Sexual Assault Response Center provides forensic examinations and critical resources for local victims of sexual assault and rape.

This month, every library in Livingston County is participating in LACASA’s 19th annual Clothesline Project. The project features T-shirts created by local abuse victims, which convey powerful messages about their experiences and their messages to abusers.

The Clothesline Project, which was started by a group of women from Massachusetts in 1990, is a way for sexual assault victims to tell their stories through art. The clothesline is symbolic. Doing laundry was historically women’s work and in the days of close-knit neighborhoods, women often exchanged information over backyard fences while hanging their clothes out to dry. The clothesline represents a vehicle of communication, but also symbolizes the feelings of assault victims that they’ve been abandoned and “left hanging.”

Libraries hosting displays include Brighton Area District Library, Fowlerville District Library, Hamburg Library, Hartland Cromaine Library, Howell Carnegie Library, and Pinckney Community Library.

Also in April, LACASA invites area residents, businesses and organizations to join in its Denim Day activities on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Denim Day is an international day of activism sparked after a rape conviction was overturned by an Italian Supreme Court. The judges determined that because the victim’s jeans were tight, she must have helped the rapist remove them, thereby implying consent. This 1999 legal decision triggered worldwide outrage, and Denim Day emerged as a way to raise awareness about consent and victim blaming.

LACASA is offering free Denim Day awareness stickers and posters to anyone from the community via pick up or mail. It also provides ideas on its website about ways individuals and businesses can get involved locally.

The third awareness event will be held on May 5, when LACASA presents a free film screening of Audrie & Daisy, followed by a panel discussion moderated by LACASA’s Teen Advisory Council.

Audrie & Daisy tells the story of two high school girls who were sexually assaulted by guys they thought were their friends. Videos and pictures were passed around. The assaults, along with the social media aftermath, changed their lives forever.

The documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Historic Howell Theater, 315 E. Grand River Ave., Howell. It will conclude with a thoughtful exchange of ideas. Space is limited and guests are encouraged to arrive early to secure complementary admission tickets and preferred seating.

“There are several ways individuals, groups and businesses can show support for sexual assault survivors as well as dispel the myths surrounding sexual assault and consent,” said LACASA Community Education Director Nicole Matthews-Creech.

“The more conversations we can have as a community, the better prepared we are to help prevent sexual assault and effectively respond to the needs of sexual assault victims and survivors,” Creech said. “Our events are designed to offer people information and insights that lead to positive change in our own towns, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.”

For information about any of LACASA’s awareness programs, visit lacasacenter.org, or contact Nicole Mathews-Creech at 517-548-1350.

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