Domestic Violence Awareness Month

1 Oct

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month—a month for people to come together to support victims and survivors of abuse, mourn deaths caused by relationship violence, and spread awareness about this issue.

Domestic violence is broadly defined as violence or abuse committed against one person by another in a relationship context. Domestic typically refers to a home or a family, but the awareness month of October is inclusive of all issues pertaining to relationship violence and abuse. You may have seen some stories about relationship violence in the media in the past few weeks, when information about a few NFL players was released to the public. This, while a tragic event, has brought about many conversations about how people handle cases of relationship violence. Fortunately, the NFL is now making moves to put harsher punishments on perpetrators of relationship violence.

In the wake of cases of domestic violence appearing in mainstream media, it is particularly important to note that relationship violence is usually more common than we tend to think. A study shown on reports that one in five college women have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threats of physical violence in a relationship. Additionally, the study states that 57% of people who have been in an abusive relationship say that it occurred in college.

During this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, take the time to think about whether you and your friends are engaging in healthy relationship behaviors. Always watch out for warning signs of abuse such as a partner being extremely jealous or controlling. To find out more information, go to websites like:,, Relationship violence is never normal, and never acceptable.


Elon – Come to McKinnon, 7:30 on Wednesday for an awesome cultural event!

16 Sep

Can I Kiss You Event Sept 17

April Events!

15 Apr

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a month intended to increase awareness of the negative effects of sexual assault (particularly on college campuses) and to increase the support base for survivors of sexual assault and violence.  April is a very busy month for most organizations, including SPARKS, so here are some events we are hosting for the rest of the month, as well as a few other important events!

  • Wednesday, April 16 – TAKE BACK THE NIGHT:  A march against sexual violence begins at 6PM in the Academic Pavilion Amphitheater.  Hundreds of people gather to hold posters and march in protest of the sexual violence that takes place on college campuses.  At 6:30 there will be food and tabling in front of Whitley (rain location is West Parlor).  At 7:00 the Survivor Speak-out will take place in Whitley, where survivors of sexual assault are encouraged to come share their stories in a safe environment.
  • Thursday April 17th – Party Smart events hosted by SPARKS 5-7 PM and 7:30-9:30 PM in McEwen Dining Hall.
  • Friday April 18th – AWARE FAIR in the Speaker’s Corner from 2-4PM.
  • The Clothesline Project is taking place from Monday April 14-Friday April 18.  From 8AM to 5PM, shirts will be hung in the speakers corner in protest against sexual violence.  More information about the Clothesline Project can be found here.
  • Tuesday, April 22nd – Harlan Cohen (author of “Getting Naked: 5 Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (while fully clothed and totally sober)” and “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You May Run Into In College” will be speaking at 7:30 PM in Lakeside 214.
  • Thursday April 24th – Party Smart events hosted by SPARKS 5-7 PM and 7:30-9:30 PM at Crest Elon Apartments.
  • Thursday, April 24th – 9PM Food and Discussion after “Extremeties” in the Black Box Theater.

SPARKS would also like to congratulate EFFECT (Elon Feminists) on their very successful “Supporting Survivors Week” and Walk Against Victim Blaming.  We are so excited to see so many students contributing to the movement to prevent sexual assault and create an environment in which survivors feel comfortable coming forward, sharing their stories, and seeking the support they deserve.


It’s Time To Lead The Break!

21 Mar

Spring break is starting today, and SPARKS just hosted a “Lead The Break” campaign at Moseley, giving out Safe Spring Break kits and tank tops.  You may be asking, what does “Lead The Break” mean?  It’s actually linked to a national peer education campaign (about which you can find information at that encourages college students to make the most of their spring breaks by improving themselves, volunteering, and applying for jobs and internships.

Spring break is undoubtedly an excellent time to check out some internships and apply to jobs for the summer, but it is also a time to relax and take some time away from work and school.  If you are planning on going on vacation somewhere, here are a few tips to stay safe and enjoy yourself:

  • Reserve a hotel room above the first floor and below the sixth.  First floor rooms are most likely to be robbed, and rooms above the sixth floor cannot be reached by a fire ladder.
  • Only withdraw money from ATMs after looking around yourself to make sure no one is close by.  Try to use ATMs during the day.
  • Pace any drinking you might choose to do by alternating alcoholic drinks with water.  This will help slow you down a bit so that you don’t get too drunk too fast, and also help you stay hydrated (to avoid a hangover).
  • Definitely make sure to stay hydrated if you choose to drink in the sun, as sun can maximize the effects of alcohol and dehydrate you more quickly.  This also applies to drinking in a hot tub–alcohol lowers blood pressure, which can lead to unconsciousness and drowning.  Again, always, ALWAYS stay hydrated and pay attention to what your body is telling you.
  • You already know this, but if you choose to engage in any kind of sex, make sure you are protected.  You can always get safer sex supplies for free from the SPARKS office in Moseley!
  • Along those lines, make sure if you choose to engage in sex that you have consent from your partner.  Remember that consent a clear, unimpaired “yes” that can be taken back at any time.

The list could go on and on, but one of the most important ones is to stick around people who will have your back, and make sure you look out for them in return.  Also, seatbelts are pretty important.  HAVE A WONDERFUL BREAK!

On Loving Our Bodies

28 Feb

The SPARKS blog has been on a bit of a hiatus, but we are back just in time to reflect on Love Your Body Week!

Love Your Body Week was an event that SPARKS put on to promote body positivity at Elon.  We had a table in Moseley all last week where we gave out “I ❤ My Body” pins, compliments, and candy (because sometimes it’s just nice to treat yo’ self).  We also had a huge piece of paper for people to write down parts of their bodies that they love.  People wrote everything from “My nose” to “My boobs” to “My broken finger”.  It was amazing to see people pausing to say something nice about themselves.  We don’t often think to do that.

Something I notice at Elon is that we all can be a little judgmental, especially about bodies and clothing.  It’s also not just Elon–it’s really a problem everywhere.  Our society makes us think that if we say things like, “Oh, she shouldn’t be wearing those shorts” or, “He’s just wearing that to get attention,” it makes us better than those people.  Maybe because we know better, or because we’re proving that we wouldn’t make mistakes.  The reality is that putting other people down doesn’t really help anyone.

Bullying is bad, and I’m sure we can all agree on that.  However, there are different kinds of bullying that we all might be a little guilty of.  Bullying like body-policing or body-shaming can be such a simple thing, but here’s an important thing to consider:  it hurts us all.  What people “should” or “should not” wear is a made-up idea.  What looks “flattering” changes every few years.  Instead of judging someone’s clothes or body, let’s start being excited for them.  Let’s be excited that somebody wore something they feel good in.  What’s wrong with wanting a little attention?  What’s wrong with wanting to feel a little beautiful, or exciting, or modest, or whatever makes someone happy?

This obviously doesn’t just apply to women, or to how revealing clothes are.  The idea that we shouldn’t judge others also doesn’t mean that we all have to agree on what’s fashionable.  People have their own sense of styles, comfort, and opinions on modesty, and all of it is okay!  We don’t have to agree, we just have to be able to hold different opinions without shaming, judging, or making others feel bad about their opinions.

I have been working on changing thoughts like, “Those leggings look bad,” and to much healthier and positive thoughts like, “Good for her for rocking something she feels great in!”  I can honestly that using positive language and thinking positively feels good.  It feels good to compliment people, even when they can’t hear you.  It feels even better to compliment them to their faces.  Honestly, we could all really use a compliment here and there.

When you accept the unconventional beauty in others, it becomes easier to accept it in yourself.  Love your scars, your jiggles, your weird pinky toe!  They make you special and unique, and they tell stories.  As unavoidably cheesy as this is going to be, let’s try to make every week “Love Your Body Week.”  If everyone at Elon intentionally changed a judgment to a compliment every once in a while, we’d all be a little more comfortable with ourselves, and a little happier 🙂

– Anna von Wodtke (SPARKS Peer Educator)

If you’re looking for more resources about body positivity, here are a few:

20 Ways To Love Your Body

Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty – The Body Positive Project

Safe Spring Break Success

15 Apr

It is sad to say that Spring Break has come and gone—now it’s time to crack open those dusty textbooks once more, and make it through the final stretch of classes. But the tan lines and bikini pics will be a lasting memory of your Spring Break 2013, a time of fun, sun, and safety! Did you party smart, buckle up, and lather up that SPF? At SPARKS, we like everyone to enjoy Spring Break to the fullest by making healthy, low-risk decisions. Moseley tables complete with Safe Spring Break kits, tips, and tanks helped to kick of Spring Break, SPARKS style.

Safe Spring Break Kits: We hope you stopped by our Moseley table to make your own Safe Spring Break kit complete with sunscreen, condoms, Chap Stick, temporary tattoos, and more. Let’s not forget free tank tops! No sweat if you missed out, come back next year for more SSB goodies. (Stop by early, these hot commodities go fast!)

AND THE WINNER IS… Hope y’all uploaded your photos for the Safe Spring Break Photo Contest! We asked students to send in a picture of themselves sporting the Safe Spring Break tank while making low-risk choices. Congratulations to Maritza Dee, the new owner of free tickets to the Spring Show! With runner ups, Leandra Nikont and Kimberly Gersh receiving Dunkin Donuts gift cards.  (hurry and go check your campus mailbox!)

Free STI Testing: SPARKS offered free STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing at the Ellington Health Center in order for students to “know before you go.” This non-invasive test screens for gonorrhea and chlamydia, both common and curable STIs, as a great way to stay healthy and prevent the further spread of STIs.

Thank you all for making Safe Spring Break such a success. But don’t let those safety tips go to waste! Wearing sunscreen, driving safely, staying hydrated, and knowing your limits are just a few ways to keep everyday safe.

Can I Kiss You? – April 11

2 Apr