Warriors Against Rape is one of Florida A&M University’s newest organizations that is taking the initiative to end sexual assault. Founded this fall, W.A.R. is an organization that focuses on being a support system to men and women who have experienced sexual assault.
The organization wants to inform incoming and current students on information regarding consent, the impact of sexual violence, and resources on campus available for victims. Meetings for the organization are held once a month in the Trio building and members are welcomed to support, advocate, and educate.
Founding President of W.A.R., Alyssia Mikes, is a survivor of sexual assault and knows the pain and confusion the experience can bring. Partnering up with Quantina Washington, Ph.D., of Counseling Services, she is now using her story to help other survivors.
“Quantina Washington and I came up with W.A.R because we wanted to educate and change the stigma that students face on an HBCU campus,” Mikes said. “I heal by advocating. Many people heal in different ways but this is how I heal.”
A study conducted by The National Sexual Violence Resource Center showed that 1 in 5 Women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
Many people who were victims of sexual or domestic assault feel that the spotlight is generally on the perpetrator, rather than the victim. This leads to many people remaining quiet, without the chance to grieve and accept what they’ve been through.
Not only does W.A.R. provide support to survivors, it also provides a platform. Andrea Diaz, a psychology student, is a member of W.A.R. and plans on using that platform to boost the voice of sexual assault survivors.
“Going through sexual assault helped me find a voice for other girls who didn’t have one,” Diaz said. “I want to let people know that it’s not your fault, and it doesn’t define who you are.”
Forgiveness is what many people who were involved in sexual assault have found to help them move on in life, and become more aware of the people they hang around or trust. Though it can take time to recover from the trauma that a sexual assault survivor has experienced, there is support out there.
Gbekeloluwa Omodara, a business administration graduate student, has experienced the support that W.A.R. has provided and says she was able to move forward with her life.
“W.A.R gave me confidence and hope, I was in denial. I spoke up and I didn’t hide or get upset,” Omodara said. “I want to reduce the stigma that we face, especially at an HBCU.”
The overall mission for W.A.R. is to partner with the Office of Communications to create a PSA showing that FAMU is united and against sexual assault.
In the future, W.A.R will be hosting events on FAMU’s campus to raise sexual assault awareness and to reduce the stigma on campus. The organization wished to advocate on FAMU’s campus and in Tallahassee for greater protection of students, more resources for victims, and for laws and policies that benefit those affected by sexual assault.