‘Love the Way You Lie’ sparks discussion on sexual assault awareness

Tro’Juan Henderson from New Orleans, Louisiana Hosts The Love The Way You Lie event, in DSU on March 29, 2016. This event is one of 7, that will take place during the month of April to raise awareness for sexual assault. Mhari Shaw/ HERALD

Ambriehl Crutchfield

A collaboration of the arts came to a head in the presentation of a narrative telling of the realities of sexual assault and the need to bring awareness to the issue.

Love the Way You Lie is one of several sexual assault awareness events WKU has hosted for the month of April, recognized nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The event allowed students to display their talent while raising awareness for sexual assault.

The emcee for the night, Tro’Juan Henderson, whose profession is performance poetry and hosting workshops advocating for survivors of intimate partner violence, did a poetry piece about the struggles women face in their daily lives.

“I am fighting against things I have once been a part of, not the sexual assault. But I know that I’ve probably said things that are very problematic and let things go on,” Henderson said.

Henderson said he recalls growing up and hearing his uncle asking questions about a sexual assault victim such as “What was she wearing?” and “Why did she wear that short skirt if she did not want to do that?”

Henderson said hearing the stories of others made him think he needed to be a part of educating and holding himself and others accountable.

“We could use the written word and spoken word to actually bring those things out. They can actually see that their stories are worth value and there are people that listen and are just like them, and even if they are not, they can get me to some new information,” Henderson said.

Henderson said seeing various leaders and campus organizations in attendance came as a big shock to him. He said he was used to people going through traumas like sexual assault and just dealing with it by themselves, but knowing there was support for students from the student body and faculty was very meaningful.

One in five women and one in 16 men have been sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Louisville sophomore Lauren Pickren took this statistic to heart as she applied it to her own life.

“There are four of us, and we live together. If you put one more girl with us, one of us would be affected by it. That’s how I looked at it, and it was scary,” Pickren said.

Love the Way You Lie was created in the fall semester of 2010 by a student coordinator in the WKU Alive Center office to start a conversation and give support to WKU and community members.

Aurelia Spaulding, communications and marketing coordinator at the ALIVE Center, said she had seen the program progress and receive more student involvement and growth in partnerships in the last six years.

Many departments on campus, including Housing and Residence Life, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Student Activities and Organizations, Judicial Affairs, the Counseling and Testing Center, and the Gender and Women’s Studies Program had representatives on stage step forward to show community members visual support of who they can talk to at any time on campus.

Counselors were also in the back of the auditorium in case support was needed during the show.

For Bowling Green High School junior Abigail Raley, being able to spread her poetry and awareness was very important to her.

“When you share poetry with someone, it shares wavelength  — an emotional connection  — and it isn’t typically shown through other forms of art,” Raley said.

Raley said she has personally experienced sexual assault and knows people who have been affected, so she wanted to speak out for those who are afraid to use their voice.

For Raley, becoming part of the conversation surrounding sexual assault is vital.

“Become a part of the conversation. That’s the most important part: trying to get out there and trying to learn more and understand it more so that you can help other people,” she said.