Community rallies against sexual assault, violence
People of all ages, races and genders milled between a semicircle of tables Thursday evening in Dunn Meadow, making posters for the Take Back the Night rally.
“Men and Women Unite,” one read.
“Rape hurts everyone,” read another.
Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” played through the large speakers.
“Take Back the Night is an event that serves to support social change and raise awareness in the realms of sexual assault and domestic violence,” IU Women’s Student Association President Grace Evans said in an email.
She also said the event serves to create a safe space to support survivors.
Condoms and flashlights were scattered across WSA’s table.
Middle Way House, which serves and provides lodging for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, had more signs on their table.
“A woman in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read,” one said.
At 6:30 p.m., speakers were called to the stage, and one by one they told their stories.
Shani Robin, crisis intervention services coordinator at the Middle Way House, was the first speaker.
“I am an incest survivor,” Robin began. “My father was my rapist.”
She said she works for Middle Way House not for a paycheck, but for survival.
“I am a queer woman,” she said. “We’re often not counted, because we are too afraid to come forward.”
Maurer School of Law Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Catherine Matthews came forward to talk about the diversity and togetherness necessary to “raise the consciousness.”
“Fear is as familiar to us as air,” Matthews said, quoting feminist writer Andrea Dworkin. “We inhale it. We live in it.”
At 7:15 p.m., the group began their march toward the Monroe County Courthouse, chanting “Yes means yes, no means no, whatever we wear, wherever we go.”
People in cars honked their horns and cheered.
They marched up the stairs of the courthouse, passing the Alexander Memorial.
“To the soldiers of all wars,” the statue read.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network website, someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States.
Studies estimate 54 percent of these assaults go unreported, and 97 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail.
Evans said she was chalking for the event on a Friday evening when a woman, about 40 years old, with “blonde hair and weary eyes” took note of their pink and turquoise sidewalk scrawls.
“I’m getting a divorce because of that,” the woman had said, nodding at the writing.
Evans said she was dumbfounded.
“She told me that she’s fighting to get her and her children to safety,” Evans said. “Probably only four people walked by us that day while we chalked and at least one of their lives was currently being shaped by domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Globally, one in three women will be the victim of domestic violence or assault in her lifetime, Evans said.
“That’s why Take Back the Night is important,” Evans said. “It takes a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault. For that woman on the sidewalk. For my mother. For my older sister, my godmother, way too many of my friends. For the little boy that I baby-sat this summer. For me. These are issues that affect millions of people every day and these are issues that we can change.”
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