UH using ‘Sex Signals’ to protect students

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It’s an innovative and out-of-the-box approach to tackling a sensitive subject.

On Tuesday, an acting troop made its University of Hawaii debut, broadening awareness about date rape using improv, humor, and audience participation to get the message across.

“Most importantly we would like the students to take away what the meaning of consent is and why it’s important and that it’s probably not the buzz kill that they imagine that it is. We also want them to understand that supporting survivors and not supporting jokes about sexual assault or jokes about rape will help to create a community in which everybody feels a little bit safer and hopefully we can all have a better time,” “Sex Signals” actor Courtney Abbott said.

The actors from Chicago travel the globe offering an entertaining yet provocative 90-minute show educating adults at college campuses and military bases about dating, sex and consent.

“We are hoping that people would come forward but more importantly we can’t expect rapists to suddenly decide to stop doing it…rapists tend to ignore words like no and stop. What we can hope is that the community around us decide to do something about it,” “Sex Signals” actor, Chris Sanders said.

A former soldier in the U.S. Army, Sanders was based on Oahu before moving to Chicago to pursue acting after his time in the military.

“The acting portion is more kind of the means to the end of facilitating that honest conversation that we want to have with our audiences,” Sander said.

The Sex Abuse Treatment Center of Hawaii reports one in five women in the U.S. has been raped and more than half were assaulted by an acquaintance.

Officials at UH Manoa say in 2010 and 2011 a total of two dozen sex assaults were reported on campus.

“I believe the number is higher and reporting is low and that’s why this educational piece is important,” Acting Chief of UH Campus Security, Capt. Alberta Pukahi said.

This is the first time UH campus security has sponsored an event like this.

“Some people don’t want to hear that from us…so what I saw was fun and different and educational,” Capt. Pukahi said.

Three free shows were performed Monday for students, faculty and the athletic department in honor of Sex Assault Awareness Month.

“Know yourself know your limitations, if it doesn’t feel right get out,” Capt. Pukahi said.

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