By Taylor King
The cold, darkness and the feeling of helpless. Until it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels.
Wednesday evening, in the chapel of Francis Hall, students gathered for a Social Justice Week event Take Back The Night. This movement to not be silent any longer for sexual assault victims has been going on since the 70s. People all over have been holding these events to take back the nights that have been taken from them by a perpetrator. These events are a safe place to go and share stories and make those who have not experienced such events to be more aware of the signs and to encourage them to help others around them.
During the event held by the Office of Student Development, women and men gathered together to hear the seriousness of sexual assault. Representatives from Quanada spoke to help students understand what they do and what they are there for when it comes to people needing help.
Two brave individuals from the university came forward to share their stories with students. These were not to scare students but for them to know that keeping your story to yourself and staying silent is not the way to go. There are people who want to help you.
“My hope is that students and everyone around the campus community understands that they are not alone. I want them to know that every day someone goes through something tough and that you might never know what someone is going through or what they have gone through to get where they are going,” Abigail Moser said.
It is extremely hard for people to come forward when speaking about such a sensitive topic, possibly for the first time or only had told their stories a few times before this event.
“I give so much credit to the two women who spoke out this evening, but I think that it was extremely important for myself to be present to make myself more aware and to make the people around me safer and to help them. This was a very moving night that all men and women on campus should be apart of,” Sarah Blair said.
After the stories, there was an activity where students held hands. A Quanada employee asked questions and if participants could answer yes to any of them, they would squeeze the hand of the person to their right or left. This was a symbolic way of saying, ‘we have each others backs in this community.’
There were closing remarks and then everyone had to grabbed a candle and sang a song written by Lady Gaga called, Til It Happens To You.
“It was extremely moving to hear the words, we are done with silence. I think that’s a statement that resonates with everyone in a different manner but with a meaning of empowerment. This was something that was so important to hear,” Baylie Stephens said.
“I am hoping that the female population understands a few things; first, they are not alone. Second, they are not to blame- it is not what they say, or how they act that brings on sexual violence. Third, there are always people available to listen without judgment and to help you get through whatever it is you are dealing with,” Moser says.
One in five women have experienced, completed or attempted rape in their lives. One in six boys are sexually abused before age sixteen.