Take Back the Night, a rally against sexual violence

Josh LaBellaGeneral Assignment Reporter

Life after rape is not easy and it takes support, said UCONN student Suzy Berthiaume.

On Tuesday April 18, Southern hosted Take Back the Night, a rally against sexual violence.

Berthiaume, the keynote speaker, said it is important for allies to be there for victims of sexual violence.

“Listen to hear them,” said Berthiaume, “don’t listen to respond.”

According to Berthiaume, victims trying to deal with the aftermath of sexual violence should find the method of coping that works for them and pursue it.

“Don’t give up,” said Berthiaume, “Keep pushing the boundaries until you feel your voice has been heard.”

  The event started at 6:45 in front of the Dunkin Donuts in the student center, where students gathered to begin their march to the residential quad. After Berthiaume finished speaking, the coordinators opened up the floor for victims and allies to speak out.

 Ariel Unger, an Interdisciplinary studies major with concentrations in geography, public health and human sexuality, said she attended the event to show support. She was one of many students to go in front of the crowd and speak.

 “This is an issue I feel close to because of my experiences with sexual violence,” said Unger. “With the speak-out I wanted to show people they need to recognize what’s going on and the victims need to recognize it themselves.”

Unger said a large part of coping with sexual violence is denial. She said the event went well and she was surprised by the big crowd.

Catherine Christy, director of The Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support Center, was one of the coordinators of the event and said the event went really great.

“Take Back the Night is a night for survivors and for allies to support survivors,” said Christy. “It’s about giving a voice to them and providing a safe space for students to come up and speak.”

Danae Sawchyn, a junior English major and peer educator for VPAS, said this was her first time attending the event.

“Sexual violence is a topic people really don’t understand,” said Sawchyn. “Take Back the Night is the biggest event to represent the community and survivors, and I wanted to show support.”

Jerica Olson, a junior English major with a focus in secondary education, said she strongly believes in supporting victims of sexual and domestic violence.

“I believe in everything VPAS stands for,” said Olson. “I came here tonight to better understand these topics, which are normally considered taboo.”

Alicia Lanzetti said this was her first Take Back the Night. She said she started working for VPAS to get her 30 community service hours for a social work class and she is glad she ended up with them.

“I am a victim of sexual violence and I haven’t sought help yet,” said Lanzetti, a freshman social work major. “But this event helped a lot. It was extremely empowering.”

Kristina Filomena, a junior social work major, co-hosted the event and said it never ceases to amaze her how many people come up and speak.

It shows how brave they are,” said Filomena. “I feel like this population of people doesn’t have a lot of advocates and events like Take Back the Night help raise awareness.”

Photo Credit: Josh LaBella

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