Creative actions against sexual violence

group of people having a discussion at the 2017 CounterAct Convening


Academic Integration

There were three parts to the arts and academic integration component of the CounterAct Initiative:

Seed Grants

Seed Grants provided an opportunity to engage ASU students, faculty and staff to implement a solution on how to address sexual violence by presenting cultural solutions through arts-based and trauma informed practices. The Convening event in April 2018 initiated the process of awarding small-scale sexual violence prevention projects from $200 to $1,200.


All Seed Grant recipients were required to:

  • Apply trauma based practices to their creative work.
  • Integrate arts and design into their projects.
  • Receive technical assistance from a sexual violence prevention educator.

This was to ensure that all project attendees participate in creative CounterActions that address sexual violence and promote healthy sexuality.


Each person who received CounterAct funding was expected to:

  • Attend one Critical Response Process (CRP) Session with a circle of their peers to provide and receive feedback on projects. CRP was created by Liz Lerman to provide a method for giving and getting feedback on work in progress, designed to leave the maker eager and motivated to get back to work.
  • Attend a Seed Grant orientation session.
  • Participate in a tabling event.
  • Attend a writing retreat to iterate ideas for an edited volume.
  • Document their project toward the CounterAct Counter.
  • Complete assessment documents as needed.

Participants applied their trauma-informed practice to creative projects. Grants supported material costs of projects including but not limited to art supplies, marketing printables, research and training.

Related Articles:
Action through Art: CounterAct addresses on-campus sexual violence with arts-based initiative
ASU aims to 'CounterAct' sexual violence through the arts

Implemented Seed Grants

Faculty, staff and students implemented 15 projects that led to hundreds of actions to counter sexual violence and promote healthy sexuality.

Full project report


Long before #MeToo: An art-based exhibit revealing a difficult story

Over the course of the Spring 2019 semester, students in Pamela Stewart’s HST 328: Women in U.S. History class engaged with various themes that reflected on current issues affecting women (and others) in American society and the world at large. Each student and the professor created a piece that illustrated how sexual violence has been a re-occuring theme throughout history. They also produced a short video.

Sex & Love & Disability

photo of Dawn Gilpin

Dawn Gilpin led an event to discuss how people with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual assault, domestic violence and abise. The event also reminded audiences of the variety of visible or invisible disabilities and how that can affect relationships, sex and sexuality. The discussion was moderated by Vanessa Ruiz, professor of practice. The panelists included:

  • Amit Algotar, M.D./Ph.D., Cancer Survivorship Clinic, The University of Arizona Cancer Center, Clinical Weight Loss Program, Banner University Medical Center-South Campus, College Athlete (tennis)
  • Ashley Bridwell, LMSW, brain tumor survivor, community advocate, Program Coordinator at Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center
  • Amy Silverman, parent, author and advisory board member of National Center on Disability and Journalism

This event was done in collaboration with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Musical Meditation: A Mantra for Survivors

Tiara Cash with a poster of her project

Tiara Cash and Nika Gueci, from ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience, created a living mantra for survivors of sexual violence to provide a form of meditation for anyone who has experienced trauma. The trauma-responsive mantra can be spoken or sung; the intention is to assist people in their process of healing through the practice of meditation.

portrait of Mulherin, an R&B duoAffirmations include, “I am life. I am strength. I am resolution. I am enough.”

The mantra was put to music by an outside musical band, Mulherin, an R&B duo (and identical twin brothers) from Memphis, Tennessee. The mantra was recorded and is accessible on Youtube.

CounterAct Counter: 908 out of goal of 880CounterAct Counter

The CounterAct Counter registered CounterActions against sexual violence; the goal of the iniative was to document 880 counteractions, one for each of the 880 acts of sexual violence that occur each day in the United States. The initiative exceeded its goal, documenting 908 CounterActions completed by the ASU community.

Edited Volume

CounterAct - Call for abstracts poster - May 2019The CounterAct writing retreat on April 17, 2019, initiated the call for submissions for the Edited Volume.

The following submissions were selected and awarded: 

  • “It’s Not That Simple: Reflections on Ten Years of Sexual Violence Prevention Performances."
  • "Show, if not tell: Hearing visual voices from #MeToo.”
  • "Facilitating Compassionate Conversations About Sexual Violence in Academia: Integrating Trauma-Informed, Empirically-Supported, and Mindful Approaches to Build Community and Increase Awareness."
  • “Toward a Model of Shared Understanding: Learning to Negotiate the ‘Gray Area’ of Consent through Participatory Theatre."
  • "Confronting Sexual Violence Through Feminist Art in the Digital Age: From El Tendedero/The Clothesline Project to #MeToo."

Tentative publication date: November 2019.