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New ‘One Love’ Interest Group: Conversations Surrounding Sexual Assault and Unhealthy Relationships at Northwest

The new One Love interest group led by Ella A 21’ and me hopes to improve sexual assault education at Northwest. One Love is an organization outside Northwest that strives to educate younger generations about healthy relationships and sexual assault prevention. Through workshops and group discussions, participants of One Love are able to identify the signs of a mentally or physically abusive situation. As we are living in unusual circumstances due to the Covid-19 crisis, One Love has moved to the digital world, and meetings are now being held on Zoom. Nevertheless, co-leader, Ella A is eager to initiate conversation and hopes the interest group “not only passes on the teachings of One Love to Northwest students, but also provides a space to discuss the topics of sexual assault and consent. I want the space to be safe for people from all backgrounds with all identities.”

Education regarding healthy and unhealthy relationships, sexual assault, and consent should be a priority in the curriculum at every school. Everyone can benefit from learning about the signs of an unhealthy relationship, to help prevent sexual assault and domestic violence in their relationships. Marcel F. 21’, along with a cohort of Northwest Upper School Students, attended the Sexual Assault and Consent Summit in Washington D.C this past November. According to Marcel, he was inspired to attend the summit after seeing numerous black men in the media be victims of sexual assault: “I wanted to learn more to help work as a role model for my black community and in the long run, teach them how to maintain healthy relationships.” One of his main takeaways from the summit was that “sexual assault occurs on a global scale and avoiding these conversations on consent and relationships can simply harvest a future of children who continue to sexually abuse others.” While Northwest doesn’t avoid the topic of sexual assault, several students at Northwest, including myself, wish the issue recieved more attention.

This is why Ella A and I are starting a One Love interest group here at Northwest, because while we want to educate students about unhealthy and healthy relationships, we also want to discuss the intersectional nature of sexual assault and violence. Young people are at the highest risk of sexual violence, which is why it is so crucial and urgent to educate the students at Northwest. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the largest American nonprofit anti-sexual assault organization, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. While anybody can be a victim of domestic violence, it’s an issue that disproportionately impacts certain people, such as people of color (POC) and people who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. RAINN reports that Native Americans are at the greatest risk of sexual violence and are twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault compared to other races. The article “Sexual Assault and the LGTBQ Community” published by the Human Rights Campaign features a number of statistics surrounding sexual assault of the LGTBQIA+ community. One specifically striking statistic is that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

While statistics are important, it is hard to comprehend how likely sexual violence is both in and out relationships. There are lots of workshops that One Love offers that Ella and I hope to implement with the students at Northwest. While these workshops are going to look different online, they still will be great learning opportunities. Ella says she is excited to co-lead and thinks that “this interest group could really make a difference at Northwest. A lot of people truly don’t realize how important having healthy relationships is and how sometimes being in an unhealthy relationship can be life-threatening.” It is not always easy to realize the unhealthy relationships we may be in and it is certainly not simple to just leave them. We also are quick to make excuses for the people we love as it’s not easy to come to terms that maybe they aren’t the people we thought they were. Hopefully through the One Love Interest Group, Northwest students can adopt the tools to make these realizations in their own relationships. We hope to “see” some of you at the next One Love meeting!

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