At the sound of a whistle, the Illinois Valley Community College student center went silent Wednesday, as about 30 women participated in a "freeze mob" in solidarity with 1 Billion Live, a global movement to bring awareness to violence and sexual assault.
A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire and artistic expression. A freeze mob stands in place for a brief time and then disperses.
The three-minute event was sponsored by A Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Service, IVCC Student Services and Human Services Organization.
"This particular event 1 Billion Live is the first time we're doing this, but ADV/SAS has had a presence on campus for several years," said Rose Vasquez of ADV/SAS. "I think with everything going on, it has a lot to do with the #metoo movement. That campaign has moved it to the front. 1 Billion Live is global. Other countries will be doing their own thing. I think it shows real solidarity with the rest of the country and the world."
The #metoo movement is an outgrowth of recent news about Hollywood executives being accused of using sexual advances with female stars. The movement spread as women around the country and the world tweeted #metoo to acknowledge they had been coerced sexually in their lives.
Vasquez noted 20 percent of female students will experience sexual violence while in college and one in four students at college have been victims of rape or attempted rape.
"We hope this brings a sense of awareness. One in three women have been abused or sexually assaulted. We just want that awareness out there how prevalent it actually is. We wanted to make it specific to the population."
Leslie Martinez, a sophomore psychology major, joined the event with a sign prepared by ADV/SAS. Her social work class requires her to do service learning and when Vazquez came to speak about ADV/SAS's services, Martinez decided to fulfill her requirement with the mob. She says she knows more than one person in her high school class who was a victim of sexual assault.
"It's a very serious issue," Martinez said. "I just think it's something that should not exist, but it does and we can't help that, but agencies like this do something. I think it's going to be very attention getting and it's gonna raise awareness on this problem."
Bonnie Hayes and Joy Jaraczewski are career counselors at Business Employment Skills Team at the college and joined in holding signs in support of women who have been assaulted.
"We believe in preventing abuse for women and increasing awareness," Hayes said. "I think everybody knows at least one person who has experienced it.
"I would imagine that some people don't know where to turn or even if they should say anything, as they need to have an avenue," Jaraczewski said.
Two IVCC Students flash signs during a freeze mob organized to bring awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault.