Melody Coleman, Staff Contributor
“Over 55% of sexual assaults occur near or @ [sic] the victim’s home,” and other sexual violence statistics were scrawled in chalk on the sidewalks of Armstrong campus last week.
On Thursday, March 28, Armstrong students participated in the eye-opening Take Back the Night event. The night began with a speech from SGA Chief of Staff, Megan Evans. It was the golden hour, and the moment was illuminated by the sun.
At 7 p.m. survivors, supporters of survivors and all those who seek to put an end to sexual assault, domestic violence and all other forms of unhealthy aggression were invited to march through the Armstrong campus. The crowd marched to raise awareness and shine light on the darkness of abuse.
Together, marchers walked over the chalk-scrawled statistics. The march to the End The Violence Rally convened at 8 p.m. at the International Gardens. Here, the crowd would sign a pledge in honor of stopping abuse.
Survivors were then encouraged to let their voices be heard at the candlelight vigil with an open mic. All were invited to listen in, support and learn how everyone plays a role in ending sexual assault, domestic violence and violence to sexual orientation. Respects were paid to abuse survivors from all walks of life.
The march concluded Sexual Assault Awareness Week, a campaign presented by Georgia Southern University’s Sexual Assault Response Team, Georgia Southern Health services and Peers Educating Peers (PEP).
During the open mic, pictures and recording were prohibited to protect speakers’ anonymity. Each survivor would tell their story, some with tears in their eyes, some with cracking voices but all with extraordinary bravery and passion.
Student Lauren Crisp marched, citing a quote by Blythe Baird in her notebook reading, “I have run out of compassion for the wolves…I am the opposite of forgiveness, I am all rage, shriek and flame.”
There is power in words and for many, an open mic is a peace offering, allowing stories to be shared. Written on T-shirts in conjunction with the Clothesline Project were phrases like,
“You are not alone.”
“There is nothing to be embarrassed about.”
The End the Violence Rally and March concluded Sexual Assault Awareness Week and offered a sense of community, hope and the opportunity for participants’ voices to be heard.
For more resources concerning sexual assault and violence, the Counseling Center offers meetings and more information regarding community groups and hotlines to help survivors.