Sandra Kim, founding CEO and co-publisher of the media site “Everyday Feminism,” spoke about building an intersectional and inclusive movement to end sexual assault and domestic violence Wednesday.
The event was co-sponsored by the Multicultural Student Center, the Campus Women’s Center and Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE).
Kim served as the evening’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month’s keynote speaker. She expressed her views on intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic violence and dating violence. She emphasized to attendees how critical it is for college-aged students to become educated about these topics now to start the movement.
“This is something that, unfortunately, will not end in our lifetimes,” Kim said. “It is going to be a continuous part of your life, but it is important to have these public conversations and frame it to really understand what’s going on.”
She said that the pace of change is much faster than she has ever seen it, and the national and campus-wide conversations are amazing, but can be improved.
“Sexual violence and IPV are so embedded in our culture, it’s one of the few forms, one of the very few types of violence, that when it happens, people, including survivors, will insist that it didn’t happen and they will blame survivors for their own victimization,” Kim said.
Kim went in-depth about the numerous barriers victims face when self-identifying IPV. The aspects of the assault that make it hard to accept include knowing the perpetrator and experiencing non-physical assault. Both are easily dismissed, but are common cases of real assault, according to Kim.
She also mentioned that not having sexual assault being taken seriously, concern for one’s personal or community image, as well as not wanting to involve law enforcement may prohibit victims from telling the truth.
Kim suggested avenues to tear down barriers and build ways to protect and assist victims. This involves creating a culture of support and accountability that is survivor-centered, and promoting safe environments around campus.
“To make this reality, we need to be educating ourselves and making more and more space for people to be listened to,” Kim said. “People want to share, they want support, they just don’t know who they can trust.”
She parted with the idea that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, and the idea that it is can only be changed by a safe, community-healing environment.