Event uses art to discuss sexual assault

Members of Iota Phi Theta, Ernest Simmons (not pictured) and Ihyauszz Cole,19, speak at Love the Way You Lie in the Downing Student Union auditorium at WKU on March 24, 2015. Cole is a sophomore at WKU and is majoring in psychology. “I’m really against sexual assault. Nobody should do any type of abuse so I want to be the positive person and influence that can make a difference and give someone the power to leave a negative situation,” said Cole. Love the Way You Lie is an event to raise awareness about sexual assault by using artistic expression featuring WKU students, faculty and staff. There was free admission to this event and resources, such as counselors, were available for support during this event. HERALD/Erica Lafser


Music, poetry, videos and skits combined to present a narrative raising awareness against sexual assault and domestic violence for WKU’s third annual Love the Way You Lie presentation.

“Many times sexual assault is something that we’re speechless about, that we don’t talk about and that we don’t communicate about,” Lauren Cunningham, community engagement coordinator at the ALIVE Center, said during the event’s opening remarks. “But tonight is a night where we use our art to be advocates.”

Throughout Tuesday night’s presentation, students, faculty and staff participated in a series of performances in the Downing Student Union auditorium. 

The event is a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which lasts throughout March in Kentucky. Campus and community organizations work together to coordinate relevant events, said Aurelia Spaulding, the communications and marketing coordinator for the ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships. 

“I think what really sets Love the Way You Lie apart from some of the other events we have this month is that individuals who come and view this event will be able to visually see what sexual assault can look like,” Spaulding said. “It encourages conversation and shares resources.”

Cunningham not only moderated the event, she also performed two songs with accompaniment from Bobby Payne.   

“Many times, the misconception is that this is women’s issue. But it’s not. It’s our issue,” Cunningham said. “And one of the goals of this program was to bring all genders together to stand up against sexual assault.”

Elizabeth Madariaga, the sexual assault services coordinator at WKU, said she believes that the event increases awareness and understanding. 

“Doing different things, like artistic expressions, are good ways to get the entire campus involved,” she said in an email prior to the event. 

Danielle Burnley, a sociology major from Louisville, said she believed Love the Way You Lie is a good way to encourage conversation. 

“If somebody doesn’t get the conversation started, we’ll never feel comfortable talking,” she said. 

A reoccurring theme over the course of the night was that awareness is crucial to change. 

“Everyone can be aware of different things that go on and maybe prevent other situations from happening,” said Shalane Payne, a junior from Oswego, Illinois. 

Spaulding said she hopes that those in attendance will come away with a better understanding of sexual assault.  

When discussing the ideal takeaway for the event, Madariaga said the organizers and participants hope survivors and their loved ones know that “they are not alone, and we are willing to help and to provide resources for students.” 

Some resources available to survivors and their loved ones include the WKU Counseling and Testing Center and Hope Harbor. Resident assistants and hall directors can also be good resources for on-campus students, Madariaga said.  

Hope Harbor offers a 24-Hour Crisis Line that can be reached locally at (270) 846-1100 or nationally at (800) 656-4673. 

The night concluded with Cunningham and Payne performing Ben King’s “Stand By Me,” with various audience members joining in during the chorus. 

Halfway through the song, the evening’s performers returned to the stage wearing tape over their mouths and holding signs bearing the words: “No more.” 

“I think that’s really powerful to see everybody coming together,” Spaulding said. 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month will continue, on Thursday, Mar. 26, with Take Back the Night. It will begin at the Justice Center in Bowling Green at 6:00.