PITTSBURG — April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Safehouse Crisis Center is hosting several awareness, educational, and support programs throughout the month for the southeast Kansas community.
According to a release from Safehouse, Safehouse provides free and confidential advocacy, shelter, and therapy services to victims and survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and human trafficking in seven counties in southeast Kansas. Safehouse will be honoring the national awareness month with free programming for area survivors and community members.
The awareness month will begin with the “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Pittsburg Public Library.
The art installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013 and was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, “What I Was Wearing.” According to the release, the installation “asks participants to understand that it was never about the clothing and the act of shedding those clothes is never enough to bring peace or comfort to survivors,” the release said. “The violation is not simply woven into the fabric of the material, it is a part of the survivor's new narrative.
“If only ending sexual violence was as easy as changing our clothes. Instead it requires all of us to evaluate what enabled us as individuals and as a society to ask, “what were you wearing?” in the first place.”
Attendees can walk through the display anytime between 3 and 7 p.m. The display will also be traveling to Fort Scott and will be on display for community members from 1 to 5 p.m. on April 12 at the Fort Scott Public Library and 9 a.m. to noon on April 13.
Throughout the month, local southeast Kansas libraries will have sexual assault awareness book displays. Libraries which are participating include: the Pittsburg Public Library, the PSU Axe Library, the Girard Public Library, the Weir Public Library, the Fort Scott Public Library, the La Cygne Library, the Pleasanton Lincoln Library, and the Coffeyville Public Library.
On April 18, Safehouse will host a Rara Rocks Painting Party at 6 p.m. at the Pittsburg Public Library. According to a release, Rara's Rocks was started by Tamara Suguitan (nickname Rara), a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. She shared her story with Rara Rocks, a platform to provide healing and comfort to sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.
The mission of Rara's Rocks is to spread awareness for sexual and domestic violence, the free support the community provides, and to let survivors know they are not alone. Rara's motto is, "Heal when you reveal your 'rocks'." Each rock resembles a person because we are all works of art.
According to the release from Safehouse, “an important part of healing from sexual violence is learning to regain a sense of calm and safety in our lives and in our bodies.”
In the past decade, research has shown that yoga can also have a strong impact on the healing processes of many survivors of trauma, the release said. On April 20, Safehouse is partnering with Balanced Life Yoga to provide a free trauma-informed yoga class from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Eclectic Soul Studio in Pittsburg.

Safehouse will also be hosting a survivor writing workshop series called Write to Empower facilitated by advocates and local community writing professionals. The first workshop on April 15 will focus on safety, the second on April 22 will focus on empowerment, and the final workshop on April 29 will focus on healing. All workshops take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Pittsburg Public Library. Attendees do not have to attend all workshops, but are encouraged to do so, the release said.
Community members may attend a free Lunch & Learn about the Dynamics of Sexual Violence from noon to 1 p.m. on April 24 at the Pittsburg Fire Department Training Room at 911 W. 4th Street. Attendees bring their own lunch and Safehouse brings the education.
For more information about Safehouse awareness and educational programs, contact Ali Smith, Prevention Education Specialist at 620-231-8692. Safehouse also encourages people to reach out to community and campus groups also providing free programming for Sexual Assault Awareness Month such as Ascension Via Christi (620-231-6100), the Children’s Advocacy Center (620-235-0067), PSU’s Students for Violence Prevention (620-235-4831), PSU’s Student Alliance for Gender Equality (620-235-4512), and the Southeast Kansas National Organization for Women (SEK NOW) southeastksnow@gmail.com