Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shenandoah University and Women's Shelter Promote Awareness of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Actress, filmmaker and advocate Angela Shelton screens documentary on March 24, leads 'Take Back The Night' rally on March 25

WINCHESTER, Va., March 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Shenandoah University's Department of Women's Studies and The Laurel Center (formerly known as The Shelter for Abused Women) will launch collaborative awareness activities about sexual and domestic abuse with events -- free and open to the public -- on the evenings of March 24 and 25.

Filmmaker, writer, actress and activist Angela Shelton will screen her film, "Searching for Angela Shelton," and answer questions on Monday, March 24, at 6 p.m., at Shenandoah University's Hester Auditorium in Henkel Hall.

Shelton will also be on hand the next evening when the university and The Laurel Center invite community members to be a part of the 10th annual "Take Back The Night" march, on Tuesday, March 25, at 6 p.m., in front of the Smith Library on the SU campus.

Shelton is an outspoken voice for victims of sexual and domestic assault.

The screenwriter of the award-winning movie "Tumbleweeds," Shelton set out in 2001 to document the stories of women across the United States also named Angela Shelton. She discovered more than she anticipated when 70 percent of the women shared stories about being victims of rape, childhood sexual assault and domestic violence. In a twist of fate, the filmmaker met another Angela Shelton who was tracking local sexual predators, including the pedophilic father of filmmaker Angela Shelton.

Shelton's mission become apparent: to inspire and empower all survivors to heal and gain strength and courage to protect themselves and others, particularly children. She launched a grassroots movement of healing for abuse survivors -- both men and women.

"It is so important that we remove the shame from being a victim of violence, and the more and more we speak up about it the closer we are to stopping it," said Dr. Amy Sarch Schopick, director of women's studies at Shenandoah University. "Angela Shelton has rapidly become a nationally known advocate for victims of violence because she brings honesty and even some levity to a dark subject and provides something very important -- tools for healing and prevention."

Candi Bubb, sexual assault prevention coordinator for The Laurel Center, said statistics show one in three women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

"Many victims feel shame and embarrassment and don't come forward to receive the help they may need," Bubb said. "The more we talk about these issues, victims and survivors realize that they are not alone and that the abuse wasn't their fault."

SU students, faculty and staff will join community agencies and members to protest violence and crime. Participants should bring a flashlight.

Several students pursuing minors in women's studies are coordinating and promoting the events.

SU's first male women's studies minor, Ahavi Broderick, said he got involved "because sexual assault and violence in our society need to stop."

"Events like this get the word out that we do not tolerate this type of behavior, whether it's a male committing an offense on a woman or vice versa," he said. "We're here to make a change."

Broderick initiated a February event, "Gearing Up for Take Back The Night."

"We had meaningful R&B, hip-hop, rock and alternative songs and poetry that talked about stopping sexual assault and violence," he said.

To get more exposure for the awareness activities, Broderick personally handed out 400 bracelets that said 'Love is Kind, Love is Patient' on campus, taking the opportunity to tell students about the awareness events and why they should participate.

Shenandoah University is a comprehensive Level VI private university with an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students in six schools: the College of Arts & Sciences, Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business, Shenandoah Conservatory, Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, School of Health Professions (Athletic Training, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant Studies, Physical Therapy and Respiratory Care) and School of Education & Human Development. The university offers more than 80 programs of study at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. For more information, contact the Public Relations Office at (540) 665-4510 and visit

The Laurel Center empowers victims of domestic and sexual violence by providing emergency housing, advocacy, support services and education. For more information, call (540) 667-6466 and visit


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