CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and to show support for victims, the Medical University of South Carolina is hosting a series of events.

MUSC officials said this year’s theme of SAAM is “Building Safe Online Spaces Together.” According to Michele Reed, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for MUSC, raising awareness of online harassment is especially important coming out of the pandemic because many people didn’t know where to go for resources.

She also said offenders turned to online platforms.

“I think there was an increase across the country and the world in terms of people using social media as a platform to harass,” said Reed.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 41% of Americans have been subjected to harassing behavior online.

On Wednesday, MUSC hosted a panel called “Understanding the Impact of Social Media on Sexual Assault: A Conversation with Survivors and Community Providers.” Both experts and survivors talked about the various forms of sexual abuse that occurs online, like sexual harassment, stalking, and exploitation.

Stephanie Boye was a speaker during the event. She explained how social media comments can cause trauma for a sexual assault survivor. As a survivor herself, she works as a counselor for college students who are in the same shoes.

Boye encourages people to speak out and reach out to resources. She also said the sooner done, the better and she advised victims to screenshot any evidence if the harassment happened online.

On Wednesday evening, MUSC and Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S held a candlelight vigil for sexual assault survivors in Summerville. Victims were able to speak about their experiences. They also wrote empowering messages and statements on jeans.

University officials said the denim is meant to show being assaulted has nothing to do with the clothes a victim wears.

The denim will be put on display on MUSC’s campus from April 21-27.

MUSC provided a list of resources available for people who have been assaulted.

  1. Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S

24-Hour Hotline: 843-745-0144

Phone: 843-792-3391

2. SC Legal

Toll-Free: 800-922-3853

Phone: 843-720-7044

3. Joint Base Charleston Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

(Available for active-duty members and dependents 18 and over)

24-Hour Hotline: 843-478-8615

4. Formation Project

Theformationproject.org

5. My Sister’s House

24-Hour Crisis Line: 800-273-4673

6. Charleston Law Enforcement Dispatch

Phone: 843-743-7200

7. Title X

843-792-1072