‘Consent valentines’ given out in an effort to reduce sexual assault on Marshall’s campus

While some people give their loved one’s chocolates and stuffed animals for Valentine’s Day, the Women’s Center and CONTACT Rape Crisis of Huntington teamed up to give Marshall University students hand-made valentines which highlighted the importance of consent in preventing sexual assault Wednesday in the Memorial Student Center.

Jackie Wheeler, Marshall’s campus advocate for CONTACT Rape Crisis, said they are working to bring a message that consent is not only necessary but fulfilling in a sexual relationship.

“We want to help reduce the lack of understanding of what consent is by providing handmade valentines to everyone for free and a flower on Valentine’s Day,” Wheeler said. “Everyone is special and deserves to have someone special in their life with consent.”

Wheeler said this message is especially important to the campus community since this is where a large at-risk population resides.

“This is important for the incoming freshman, because this is all new to them,” Wheeler said. “This is an opportunity to have fun, and it’s hard sometimes to distinguish danger from fun.”

Jackie Enox, a senior at Spring Valley High School, became involved with the program through a school project and has been volunteering ever-since.

“I feel like a lot of times people get pressured into things that they really don’t want to do,” Enox said. “So it’s always good to make sure that people are comfortable with the things they do.”

Wheeler said CONTACT partners with other local agencies as well, with a goal of helping those in need of education and prevention.

“We want to help reduce sexual violence in our area and surrounding areas,” Wheeler said.

The CONTACT Rape Crisis Center in Huntington is open during regular business hours, and has a 24-hour hotline that is always available.

The center provides services to victims mainly residing in Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mason counties.

Wheeler said the services, which include advocacy and support for victims of sexual assault and stalking, are cost-free and open to everyone.

“It’s all confidential, it’s free, and we would love to help anyone who is in need,” Wheeler said.

The Consent Valentine’s table provided free pamphlets, contraceptives and messages for students including “no means no,” “saying yes to one activity does not consent all activities” and “if you wanna be my lover, you’ve gotta get my consent.”

Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected].