In the United States, one in three women and one in six men have been victims of a completed or attempted rape. WELL WVU and the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services are bringing a unique exhibit to West Virginia University to deliver a strong message about this prevalent but hidden crime.
WVU will host “Unheard Voices” from Jan. 25-29 from 1-8 p.m. each day in the Mountaineer Room of the Mountainlair. Guests are free to come and go during that time.
The exhibit displays hand-crafted portrait castings and viewer-activated oral histories of people who have experienced sexual assault. The portraits are of faces of sexual assault survivors and one full-body casting.
“I was 5. I woke up in the middle of the night and was thirsty. I knew if I went to the refrigerator for water, I’d get yelled at. They used to spank me a lot. I figured there was water in the cat’s dish. My stepfather woke up and caught me drinking from the cat dish. He got really angry and I remember him pushing me down on the floor and yelling at me. The next thing I remember him on top of me. I started to get really scared. I was in a lot of pain,” said a young woman named Michaella, who is featured in the exhibit.
Each of the exhibit’s 24 stories is five to 10 minutes long.
The face-to-face encounter with a survivor creates the exhibition experience. One viewer commented, “This is a very powerful exhibit, I feel it took a tremendous amount of strength and courage for these people to talk about this and tell their story”.
Both the general public and students are invited to experience “Unheard Voices.” The exhibition is free. Student groups are encouraged to attend.
Special times and facilitated tours can be arranged by calling 304-293-5054. For more information on sexual assault prevention programming or counseling after sexual assault please contact Deborah Beazley at 304-293-1377.
If any survivor of sexual violence needs help or information call the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services at 1-800-656-HOPE.
For information about other WELL WVU wellness programs or sexual assault prevention, visit http://well.wvu.edu .
CONTACT: Colleen Harshbarger, WELL WVU