Survivors Memorial initiator to speak as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 11, 2022 – The founder of Break the Silence and the initiator of the nation’s first permanent memorial to survivors of sexual violence will speak at University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Monday, April 18.

Sarah SuperSarah Super, who is a board member of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, will speak at 7 p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest, University Center. She will address the importance of allyship for sexual assault survivors. The event is free and open to all.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event is sponsored by the Student Involvement Office and the Violence Prevention Office.

Super, a sexual assault survivor, said after she was assaulted by an ex-boyfriend in 2015, sharing her story helped her heal.

In the days after the assault, her assailant and his family sought community support, while she remained an anonymous victim.

“Your goal is your healing,” said Super when asked her advice to sexual assault survivors. “You do what you need to heal and for me, that was telling my story.

“I didn’t know when I told my story that would be the spark that ignited Break the Silence,” she said, noting hundreds of sexual assault survivors reached out to her and shared their stories.

Break the Silence was first held in August 2015 with a community truth-telling event at the Ukrainian Event Center in Minneapolis. Sexual assault survivors shared their stories. After each story, the audience repeated, “You are strong, you are courageous, you are inspiring.” Then the survivor lit a candle and placed it in the center of the room.

She also wanted to dismantle the myth that women who are sexually assaulted are weak and not strong enough to take meaningful social action.

The idea to create a Survivors Memorial, which is located at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis, is a reminder that survivors surround us. Memorials play an important role in the stories we tell and the experiences we acknowledge publicly, Super noted. The Memorial to Survivors of Sexual Violence was dedicated on Oct. 10, 2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.

The Survivors Memorial has been well received, Super said.

“It is amazing that people understand the need for this space and are respecting it,” Super said.

Elise Peters, UWRF Student Involvement Office events and activities coordinator, saw Super speak in the Twin Cities a few years ago and wanted to bring Super to campus to speak.

“Sexual assault awareness, allyship and visibility are imperative,” Peters said. “We hope her powerful work will connect and support students. Most importantly, we hope this experience can give voice, and help break the silence around a topic that can be challenging to talk about and navigate.”

As part of the event, participants will have the opportunity to work on a community art project with Eoin Breadon’s Design Foundation II class in the Art Department.

For more information on the speaking event, email

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