‘It’s On Us’ Sexual Assault Awareness Week kicks off with banquet

Over 130 people RSVPd to the event.

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‘It’s On Us’ Sexual Assault Awareness Week kicks off with banquet

FAU police interim chief speaks to crowd at

FAU police interim chief speaks to crowd at "This is on Us," event. Thomas Chiles | Contributing writer

FAU police interim chief speaks to crowd at "This is on Us," event. Thomas Chiles | Contributing writer

FAU police interim chief speaks to crowd at "This is on Us," event. Thomas Chiles | Contributing writer

Thomas Chiles, Contributing Writer

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On Monday night, the Grand Palm Room in the FAU Student Union was filled with students and faculty attending the “It’s On Us” sexual assault awareness banquet.

The goal of the banquet was to educate student leaders on how to combat sexual assault on campus so they can spread the message to other members in their respective organizations, according to event host and Student Body Vice President Juliana Walters.

It also kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Week at FAU.

“This is the second year we are hosting ‘It’s On Us’ but this is the first year we have had a banquet this size,” Walters said. “We had over 130 people RSVP as well as really good representation from organizations on campus.”

Junior criminal justice major Delaney Henderson, founder of sexual assault and dating violence awareness campaign safeBAE, took the stage to share her story of being raped in her bedroom at the age of 16 by two older schoolmates.

As traumatic as the assault was, it was the aftermath that devastated Henderson. For months after the attack, Henderson was shamed and ridiculed publicly on social media by other students from her high school.

“The cyber bullying and harassment was worse than the rape itself,” Henderson said. “I couldn’t escape it and it felt like I was reliving it over and over. That’s what destroyed me, reading things online that weren’t true.”

Henderson discussed the importance of educating children at a younger age about the meaning of consent. She is now an ambassador to PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, the same organization that helped her after she became a victim of sexual assault.

Student Body President Michael Cairo took the stage to teach students about the “‘bystander effect” and when to take action when a perceived sexual threat could be near you.

Student Government President tells crowd a personal story of stopping a sexual assault. Thomas Chiles | Contributing writer

He shared a first-hand account about stopping a sexual assault while studying abroad in France. Cairo and his friends witnessed a strange man approach a distressed woman late one night.

“I had no idea who this man was,” Cairo said. “I had never been to a seminar or even knew what the bystander effect was.”

Cairo and his friends intervened and stopped the man from following the girl home.

“If you see something, say something,” Cairo said. “The bottom line is you need to take action when you see something suspicious or wrong.”

The night was closed out with a visit from Interim Chief of Police Sean Brammer. He informed students of opportunities to get free safety training on campus.

The FAU Police Department offers a Rape Aggression Defense Course, a two to three-day program that teaches women self-defense tactics and techniques. The training incorporates realistic and simple defensive tactics to ward off any unwanted advances.

Chief Brammer also informed students of the FAU Guardian app for iOS and Android devices. The app connects campus police with students’ mobile phone and provides them with a caller profile, complete with GPS locations, medical conditions and photo ID.

The “It’s On Us” Sexual Assault Awareness Week continues through this Sunday, April 9.

Thomas Chiles is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @thomas_iv.