In an effort to bring greater recognition to women after Women’s History Month in March, the Office of Women’s Development hosted a forum Monday, April 3 about issues such as shame, vulnerability and support.

Director of the Office of Women’s Development Elaine Richardson greeted each woman who entered Adam’s Lounge before the forum started. Richardson then went around the room again to make the conscious effort to remember the faces and names of all women who attended.

Each attendee was given a survey of 50 questions to fill out anonymously. The questions fell into categories such as: eating, abuse, assault, sex, family, substance abuse, mental health and more.

Questions included: Have you ever experienced depression? Do you drink as a response to stress? Have you ever thought about suicide? Do either of your parents have an immigrant status? Have you ever had feelings of insecurity after comparing yourself with someone else? Have you ever looked down on someone because of their struggles?

Once the survey was completed, respondents were asked to put it back into an envelope and seal it. The envelopes were then mixed up and given to different women around the room. Moderator and psychologist at the University Counseling Center Lori Lacy read off each question. Then the women were asked to stand up so they could read off responses as a representative of another woman in the room.

To the last question, every woman in the room stood up.

“We still look down on people because a lot of times we are having the same struggles. Sometimes the way we can avoid looking down on someone is to be aware of what is going on with us,” Richardson said.

Participants discussed how when they go through struggles, the problems get internalized and as a result, they shame themselves.

Junior Nursing major Rachael Keim believes that it is important to have someone willing to get to know you.

“Speaking as a person who has experienced sexual abuse, it’s important to be known and recognized. The language that we use is extremely important because a victim can get affected by what you say and don’t say,” Keim said.

Sophomore Economics and Humanities major Angela Pham addressed the issue of shame.

“When you talk about whatever [you’re dealing with] with someone else, part of it is that you’re defeating the shame by refusing to let it rule you and another part is giving it over to God and admitting to him that I’m not going to let this rule me. I’m going to bring this to light and then you’re opening up that space for God to speak through the person you tell because if it’s just you keeping it in then you’re letting it cover you and you’re not letting in any of God’s light. Opening up that light is sharing it,” Pham said.

Knowing that this is how many women and men feel about themselves, the Office of Women’s Development continued the event into the next two days to conclude the three-part series. Azusa Pacific men met in Smith Hall to continue the Stand Up For Your Sister forum event the following day as well.