All photos courtesy of LaFASA Facebook page
Events for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness month were canceled due to the pandemic, but victims of sexual violence can still receive help through the Louisiana statewide crisis center.
The Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LaFASA) is a statewide organization that engages with the community to learn more about the issue of sexual violence. According to Joses Canaria, Campus Coordinator of LaFASA, survivors are more at risk because of isolation and staying at home.
Social gatherings such as “Denim Day,” “Take Back the Night,” UL Lafayette’s “Standing in the Light,” and other events supporting sexual assault victims were canceled this month due to COVID-19, Canaria said.
“Denim Day” became an international day for survivors because of a case that was brought to the Italian Supreme Court. Canaria said the court dismissed a young woman’s case, who was a victim of rape, because she wore tight jeans at the time of the encounter, so the Chief Judge assumed she had to have given consent. Now, people come together and wear jeans for “Denim Day” to voice that it doesn’t matter what you wear when it comes to being in a situation with sexual violence.
According to Canaria, 1 in 5 women, 1 in 17 men and 1 in 2 transgender people are victims of rape in college around the nation. Lt. Darren Zachary, a UL Lafayette officer, created the very first soft interview room in Louisiana at UL. This room can be for any college student or community survivor to speak out about their sexual violence encounter, she said. According to Canaria, Zachary was set to receive an award in front of the Lafayette community during the Denim Day event.
LaFASA not only provides knowledge about sexual violence but provides conferences and workshops to increase people’s education about the issue. Their main focus is to serve survivors to the best of their ability with proper resources and training, Canaria said. The organization also provides legal assistance and prison system workers for victims.
Canaria said, when survivors come to them it’s a “healing journey.” They encourage victims during their healing process and help relieve trauma by giving proper information and assistance.
People who are experiencing sexual violence can still receive help through LaFASA’s crisis hotline and counseling. Lafayette’s local hotline is (337) 233- 7273 and they are available 24/7.
Canaria encourages readers to visit their website and learn how to get involved. “We really need people to get involved and are always here for survivors,” Canaria said.