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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State highlights Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Jennifer+Epperson+%28right%29+describes+the+process+she+went+through+to+create+her+gallery+Reshaping+Trauma+Through+Art+as+Elizabeth+Choate+%28left%29+listens+on+April+8%2C+2022%2C+in+the+San+Marcos+Price+Center.+Eppersons+gallery+portrays+the+artists+journey+of+healing+after+sexual+assault.

Jennifer Epperson (right) describes the process she went through to create her gallery “Reshaping Trauma Through Art” as Elizabeth Choate (left) listens on April 8, 2022, in the San Marcos Price Center. Epperson’s gallery portrays the artist’s journey of healing after sexual assault.

Editor’s note: This article includes discussion of sexual assault and abuse.
Standing in front of a small crowd of art appreciators young and old, 68-year-old Jennifer Epperson proudly announced that she had found healing.
As a child, Epperson was sexually abused, causing within her what she refers to as a “death of body, mind and spirit.” Later, she found herself trapped within an abusive marriage, believing she deserved the mistreatment she was receiving. For years, she felt broken and unworthy, trying her best to understand what happened to her.
Over 50 years later, Epperson found the courage to unashamedly share her story through artwork and help those who have gone through similar situations.
This year, her gallery “Reshaping Trauma Through Art: An Artist’s Quest for Healing from Sexual Assault” was selected as a Common Experience event at Texas State. The gallery, located at the San Marcos Price Center, features a wall of three paintings depicting the journey Epperson went through as she navigated life after being raped, along with a wall of storyboards detailing Epperson’s artistic process.
Knowing that her experience and journey to healing is one that many can relate to, Epperson’s hope is to express solidarity with survivors and make it known that healing is possible.
“The creative transformation of trauma, or the ability to create something healing out of darkness — that I can help to heal myself and others is what my intention is for this show,” Epperson said. “I think that the overall idea though, is that I would love to know that this has helped others in some way. That would be my reward.”
San Marcos resident Elizabeth Choate was deeply moved by the depicted emotions of Epperson’s work. During the tour, she was able to discuss with the artist her own journey toward healing and learning to let go of what she described felt like a “dirty secret.”
“It could be years, it’s most likely a lifetime of always learning that. It has been for me,” Choate said. “But I’ve gotten nothing but more power from what I went through, and it took a lot of years to get there, but I hold no shame. I hold no responsibility, but I had to learn and believe that in myself, which took a lot. A lot, a lot of work.”
Epperson’s gallery was chosen by the Common Experience in support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Thanks to the contributions of the Students Against Violence, Texas State has a calendar full of events and initiatives taking place this month to bring awareness and support.
In the green space outside Jones Dining Hall, red flags are displayed to represent the 26.4% of female and 6.8% of male students who, statistically, will experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation during their time as an undergrad, according to the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. Dispersed among them are white flags to portray the impact of bystanders intervening to prevent sexual violence.
Last week, Students Against Violence set up a “Denim Day” display in the LBJ Student Center to encourage healthy conversation about sexual violence. The display showed pairs of jeans painted with phrases such as “break the stigma,” “property of no one” and “it’s not your fault.” The denim represents that it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing when they are sexually assaulted, and they should not be blamed for what another person did to them.
On April 27, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to wear denim in solidarity of National Denim Day. Other initiatives, such as the “Take Back the Night” rally on April 18 and the “Like the Back of My Hand” art display on the third floor of Alkek Library are taking place this month.
On April 18 in the LBJ Student Center Plaza, Students Against Violence invites students to share their experiences of violence through spoken word or poetry to support survivors and help end sexual violence during “Take Back the Night.” Slam Poet Addy Lugo will host the event and share her original work.
The “Like the Back of My Hand” art display this month in Alkek Library shows 3D printed hands of anonymous survivors of sexual assault. On the hands are painted the age the survivors were when they were assaulted and what their relationship to their rapist was. The display is meant to create a space for survivors to share their stories, breaking the silence that contributes to the stigma of being open about sexual assault.
Hannah Carawan, a pre-medicine junior, attended the tour of Epperson’s gallery and is happy to see the initiatives Texas State is putting on for SAAPM. She believes they are a step in the right direction for the university’s goal to support survivors and plans to take part in as many as she can.
“For survivors, awareness events like this one show that they aren’t alone and that their peers care,” Carawan said. “It’s easy to forget about things we don’t see, but sexual assault isn’t something to be quiet about. Survivors deserve better than that.”
Resources for those who have experienced sexual assault can be found at www.healthcenter.txstate.edu.

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