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The Daily Wildcat

 

Survivors share stories of sexual assault in effort to raise awareness at Take Back the Night

Protestors+hold+up+Sailormoon-themed+signs+during+the+Take+Back+the+Night+March+on+Tuesday%2C+April+12.+
Darien Bakas
Protestors hold up Sailormoon-themed signs during the Take Back the Night March on Tuesday, April 12.

As darkness fell on Tuesday night, UA students and members of the community sat in silent solidarity around the Women’s Plaza of Honor as a part of UA’s annual Take Back the Night — a night dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault where survivors of sexual assault were invited to share their stories on stage.

Interns from Students Promoting Empowerment and Consent, the group hosting the event, began the hour by reading anonymous submissions from survivors that the group had received over the past weeks. Thirteen total submissions were received, according to Idara Ekpoh, a SPEAC intern and physiology senior.

As the interns read, survivors got up from the crowd and lined up one-by-one beside the stage. For an hour, survivors filled the night with stories that had previously only been spoken to a chosen few.

After the event, first-time attendee and public health sophomore, Amy Alba, said she was taken by surprise.

“It was very inspirational and moving and very deep and not expected,” Alba said, ”so much emotion.”

Alba said she walked away from the event empowered to be more “open and courageous to any problems or anything that you would feel uncomfortable with and just speaking up.”

The night began with a march around campus, followed by an hour of performances including one by UA’s first female acapella group, Dolce Voces.

Keynote speaker, Elise Lopez, the coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention Programs in the College of Public Health, spoke about the research being done on sexual violence.

“A big part of my job as a researcher here at the [UA] is finding grants to support our research,” Lopez said. “… and most of the time the grants are about doing surveys to figure out how many people are being victimized.”

Lopez shared that the main problem with these grants was not the questions they are asking, but the questions they aren’t.

“Most of the time they’re not asking how many people are perpetrating or what are the situations that are facilitating perpetration,” she said. “They’re also not saying ‘What are we going to do about this? What’s the solution? What are our prevention solutions?’”

SPEAC interns said they had been planning the event for a long time and were extremely proud of how it turned out.

“I think it went extremely well. I couldn’t have planned for it to go any better,” Ekpoh said. “I didn’t expect so many people to feel comfortable to share their stories and it was honestly just a beautiful night.”

The SPEAC team has planned a month full of events in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The next event is the Creepy or Cute Workshop on April 18 in the Disability Resource Center room 116 starting at 5 p.m.


Follow Michelle Jaquette on Twitter.


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