Art, music permeate Love the Way You Lie

Nashville senior Carmen Van Leer recites her monologue, “Custom Black,” during Love the Way You Lie, a program to raise awareness of sexual assault, on Tuesday at the Downing Student Union auditorium. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Kayla Boyd

Every two and a half minutes someone is sexually assaulted somewhere in the United States.

It’s a startling and daunting statistic, and it affects everyone.

“Issues like sexual assault aren’t just women’s issues,” Lauren Cunningham, Community Engagement coordinator for the WKU ALIVE Center said. “It’s everyone’s issue. Men are less likely than women to be sexually assaulted and report it. But they have daughters, wives, nieces, family members. This issue is everyone’s.”

WKU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month committee continued their tradition of offering multiple events throughout the month to raise awareness.

Tuesday night, the SAAM committee held its second annual Love the Way You Lie. Nearly 50 people attended the event, which displayed artistic expression in the form of dance, song, poetry and public service announcements. No More, a national campaign to end sexual assault, was also incorporated.

Carmen Van Leet, a senior participant from Nashville, wrote and performed a poem about self esteem. Her words — addressing her African American roots, gender and body image — flowed quickly and perfectly paced, coming directly from the heart.

“I wrote it three weeks ago,” she said. “Well, first I wrote a lot of crap. I wrote a lot of crap poems. But then I was sitting in the lab and it started with a phrase and I just kept writing it.”

Van Leet believes there’s a connection between sexual assault and self-esteem.

“It was just like, you don’t think about it all the time,” she said. “Self-esteem issues can be a result of sexual assault. It’s an important part of it.”

Mitzi Gray, an employee at Health Services on campus, attended Love the Way You Lie with her daughter.

“I’m familiar with a survivor of sexual assault,” she said. “And I like that they’re taking the issue and allowing them to express it artistically.”

She hopes the series will gain more attention from students in the future.

“Love the Way You Lie was bigger this year than it was last year,” Cunningham said. “We’d like to include more students. And eventually we want to include local artists to showcase their work here too.”

Take Back the Night, the final awareness event, will be held Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the Bowling Green Justice Center. It will include a candlelight vigil, a march for awareness, music and special guests.

Cunningham said there will also be a dine-in fundraiser that night at Buffalo Wild Wings during which 10 percent of the night’s profit will be donated to Hope Harbor.