By Randee May, Staff Writer
Sept. 24th meant seeing shirts wave like flags of sorrow around the Armstrong campus.
Feminists United held their third annual RAINN Day event and their message could not have been clearer had they painted the shirts red with the blood of the victims: Stop the violence.
“Today we are holding RAINN Day,” the president of Feminists United, Jasmine Tolbert said. “It stands for Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network. The clothesline event is for both men and women. It’s a way for them to air their dirty laundry.”
The shirts spread across the campus to get attention of students and faculty and, more importantly, put the word out about the reality of being a victim of abuse, assault, and rape.
“Every year we want to expand and this year we have the Rape Crisis Center here. The goal is to get more awareness and make the event bigger. With the support of the Gender and Women Studies Department as well as Feminists United, we can keep this alive,” Tolbert explains.
Each shirt held the story of a student of Armstrong, past and present.
Some students were unaware that the stories were those of fellow classmates. Most believed the stories were just general events that occurred.
Melina Raymundo, a student who was reading the shirts in the back of the Student Union said, “I think they’re inspiring. It shows that this kind of stuff happens. Some are emotional. They’re all brave.”
It was hard to miss RAINN Day, the shirts were everywhere and curiosity drew in many students. The discomfort levels were high and the shirts were even reported, but Feminists United had their goal, spread the word to stop the violence.
“No, no Damon. I’m a boy,” a shirt near Gamble Hall read. Despite popular belief men can also be victims of sexual assault and abuse.
“One in thirty-three men are raped and abused,” Tolbert said. “For women it’s one in four.” Other shirts read things such as, “You knew how to control me. I was your willing victim. Stop Abuse.” Another read, “I just want to take your virginity and never talk to you again.”
While some of the stories happened outside of the campus, such as this one: “From the age of 4 I was molested by more men than I can remember. I told no one, not even my mom. I never knew why I deserved this. We need to protect young women.”
Some assaults happened on Armstrong campus. “You expect for it to happen in an alley or in the woods like they show in the movies,” former Feminists United president, Rodrika Bailey said. Unfortunately the movies are not reality.
“I was 19. He didn’t look like a rapist, he was nice looking, in college, had money and lots of women. He was 21. He raped me in my college dorm.”
How does one define what a rapist or potential abuser looks like? Unfortunately you can’t. They are people who blend into the crowd, hidden in plain sight. All that can be done is to spread the word and help end the violence.