Women’s Resource Center advocates for sexual assault survivors with virtual ‘Take Back the Week’ event

For the first time in the event series’ history, all aspects were hosted entirely online

by Jadyn Brandt, Senior Staff Writer

Last week, the Women’s Resource Center and San Diego State’s Sexual Violence Task Force hosted Take Back the Week, an annual weeklong event created to spread awareness about issues surrounding sexual violence and rape and provide support to survivors.

The event series featured guest speakers, panels and workshops on topics ranging from survivor support to sex trafficking in the San Diego area. The series also included a virtual yoga class geared towards trauma survivors and a virtual art gallery from SDSU graphic design students.

Interim Assistant Director of the Women’s Resource Center Elzabeth Islas said many of the programs made available this past week aimed to raise awareness, address how sexual violence impacts different communities and provide spaces where survivors can work to heal from sexual violence.

Islas also said the support from other groups on campus was incredibly important in the success of the event.

“Take Back the Week would not be possible without the support and dedication of the Sexual Violence Task Force, and various campus partners such as Well-being and Health Promotion, Student Life & Leadership, and multiple student organizations,” she said.

Although San Diego State recently suspended all campus events through the end of the academic year due to COVID-19, the event still took place online through Zoom and other digital platforms.

“Despite all the sudden changes that began taking place in March, the Sexual Violence Task Force was committed to ensuring Take Back the Week happened in some capacity,” Islas said. “As such, we transitioned to a fully virtual model with a comprehensive series of programming.”

The final program of the week-long event, Supporting Survivors, took place on Friday afternoon and was led by Mary Joyce Juan of San Diego State’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

The program was meant to provide students and staff with a deeper understanding of what a survivor of sexual violence experiences when trying to cope with their trauma as well as ways in which one could provide them with support.

Juan said providing survivors with adequate support was important because of the extreme impacts that sexual violence can have on a survivor’s life, including changes in behavior and habits.

“The impact of sexual violence is very disorienting, the world is turned upsidedown,” Juan said.

Juan said the most important thing for a survivor is to feel safe and heard when opening up about their experience.

“When you’re with a survivor, what I want you to think about is ‘How do I create an experience that is completely opposite to what they went through’,” she said. “Opposite in that it gives them the sense of agency that was robbed from them during the event.”

Accounting sophomore Naomi Smitham attended the Supporting Survivors program and said the program helped her learn a lot of valuable information about sexual violence and how to be a good support system for survivors.

“I think having these kinds of events are super beneficial because they help students support others and become more empathetic all around,” she said.

To watch recordings of all of the programs offered during Take Back the Week, visit the Women’s Resource Center’s events page.