Turn off the Violence
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.