The NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) program, directed by Connie Kirkland, addresses issues of sexual assault, dating/partner violence and stalking. Part of the NOVACares Office, they provide free and confidential support services to all members of the NOVA community; including students, faculty, staff and immediate family members.
SAS also assists students working on research projects or classroom assignments related to SAS issues. The program’s largest outreach initiative this spring, reaching over 700 people, is The Clothesline Project, which SAS sponsored at five campuses – Annandale, Alexandria, Loudoun, Manassas and Woodbridge. This event encourages students and faculty to become a part of a visual display that bears witness to the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault. In this public display, a clothesline is hung with shirts which have been decorated by a NOVA member to represent a survivor’s experience, support for a survivor or with general messages to end the violence.
The Clothesline Project was accompanied by The National Vision Wall, which allowed our community to respond to the question, “Imagine a world without sexual violence… what’s different?” Students and faculty wrote responses of small or large differences that could exist in this ideal world. A third event was held on April 24 called Denim Day, which is an international campaign that began 20 years ago after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court whereby a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.
SAS is proud of all the participants for these aligned events in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.