Students, faculty and staff sat in the Grace Hall Atrium in complete silence as Rose Stewart, a date-rape survivor, told her story of the violence that was inflicted upon her 23 years ago.
Stewart was part of the Take Back the Night program that took place on March 27. The night was meant to raise awareness on campus about violence, mainly against women, and it’s affect on the women and the people around them.
“It’s helpful for people to know they are not alone,” Stewart said.
Stewart survived being beaten and raped by a man who broke into her apartment. She later helped to get him convicted, not only of the crimes against her, but for the murders of other women. He is currently on death row.
“This experience for me was incredibly empowering,” Stewart said. “We are all a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for.”
After Stewart’s story, participants gathered for a walk around the campus stopping at various points including the Widener Center and East Residence Hall. At each stop, students read stories of violence from the perspective of a woman, a man and a child.
“I wasn’t asked to come an scare you,” Stewart said. “But you need to give some serious and sober thought about this world and know that there is a distinction between sex and violence; men and crazy people.”
Also, as the group walked around Residential Drive, they were led in chants.
“We are women, we are men, together we fight to take back the night,” and “We have the power, we have the right. The streets are ours, take back the night,” could be heard throughout the campus that night.
“By walking around campus, we are able to drum up support for future years,” Anne Filippone, director of student activities, said. Filippone hopes to make this an annual event and was very pleased with the outcome of the first march.
The event ended with a candlelight vigil in front of the Mansion.
“It was a really good experience and a good tradition to start, especially on this campus because of the amount of female students,” Kristen Traina, a junior graphic design major, said.
“It brings awareness because it affects men, women and children and is trusted as a worthwhile event,” Marlaina Geffers, the graduate assistant in student activities, said.
The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Student Activities, Health Services and Counseling Services.
Take Back the Night’s main purpose is to educate and empower. According to their website, Take Back the Night “has inspired both women and men to confront a myriad of social ills, including rape, sexual violence, domestic violence, violence against children and violence against women.”
“It’s so important to me to do something to help other women not go through something like that,” Stewart said. “It’s an honor.”
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