April 6th kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Student clubs like the Women’s Center and Women Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS) tried spreading the word on such a controversial topic and gave victims the chance to speak out.
On Thursday, some students chose to have a day of silence, the silence victims of rape often endure. That silence was broken at 6:00 pm when students attended “Take Back the Night,” a silent walk across campus, concluded by speak out ceremony, where victims have the opportunity to have their stories heard.
“Take back the night is a night when we break the silence against violence against women and it’s a silent walk around campus, from the commons to gengras and at gengras we do the close line ceremony,” explained Sarah Mitchell, a senior and member of the Women’s Center.
Women weren’t the only attendees at the ritual; men also attended. Whether students were victims or supporters of victims, male or female, they were all there for the same cause.
Another senior member of the Women’s Center explained, “I am walking for people that I know that have been sexually assaulted and raped because they’re a lot of them who have been….11:20 this is my way of standing up for them and showing my love for them”
The walkers lit candles, gathered signs, and grabbed rocks that would be used toward the end of the walk.
Jackie said, “the rocks represent that moment, ya know that night, and we’re gonna throw them in the river when we go over the bridge and that’s like… not trying to forget them, but letting them off our shoulders and not letting it haunt us for the rest of our lives because stuff like that doesn’t go away.”
Once the students reached Gengras, they gathered in Suissman Lounge and the floor was opened to anyone who wanted to speak. Some shared poems, some shared stories. They all shared hope for the future.
Paula Broderick Community Education Coordinator for Hartford Sexual Assault Crisis Service, said, “Personally as a survivor it’s very heart warming and encouraging to see people come together to put an end to sexual assault and to raise awareness about what a problem it is on campus and off campus…and even someone is not a survivor, the fact that they can become a part of this and become an activist I feel as though they’re helping to create change in the world, it’s fantastic.”
If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual assault or rape and would like to tell their story, there are many clubs on campus that are willing to listen. The Women’s Center is extension 5275.