Survivors of sexual assault amplified their voices on April 4 at “Take Back the Night,” hosted by the Office of Healthy Campus Initiatives (HCI).
The event, which Rowan has hosted for the past several years, aims to prevent sexual violence through education about resources in reporting, empowering survivors to share their stories and showing support to everyone in the community.
“Take Back the Night” was organized by Jean Corcione, the office’s graduate coordinator.
“A lot of people are dealing with sexual violence and they are survivors of it. They feel like they’re alone. So knowing that people care about this, and that they want to help you, and they want to raise awareness for it and stop it is really important for someone that is a survivor,” Corcione said.
There were several on-campus groups at the event including the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Prism, Student University Programmers, Student Support Services, Active Minds and a few Greek life organizations.
“We’re all undergrad interns. So the reason they hire undergrads is to get that student input…so this is something that’s really near to all of our hearts,” said Alexa Delgado, one of the interns at a table for HCI.
One table had a banner reading “Love Should Not Hurt.” There were shapes made of denim in honor of Denim Day, an international day of solidarity with survivors that started when the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because they argued the victim’s tight jeans meant consent had to have been present.
After tabling ended, Allison Pearce, the assistant director of HCI, introduced the event. Pearce also made attendees aware that counselors were available to them in room 128 if they needed support at any point during the night.
Corcione then spoke about sexual assault and violence statistics. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four undergraduate women experience sexual assault or misconduct of some kind. Similarly, 81% of women and 43% of men report experiencing some kind of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetimes. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 47% of transgender people experience sexual assault in their lifetime.
Eventually, the stage opened up to attendees. Several speakers talked about boundaries, having the right to say no in and how their upbringings affected their abilities to set boundaries. In addition, they talked about not being believed by the court system, friends and family.
Some of the speakers talked about the stigma of being a male survivor or being part of the LGBTQ community and experiencing assault, let alone talking about it.
Amy Hoch, licensed psychologist and associate director of the Wellness Center, took to the stage to make everyone aware that the Wellness Center was the only confidential space on campus. It is a place where they are not mandated to report sexual assault, to help manage reporting, medical care and be paired with a counselor, if the victim requests these measures.
“This is such important social justice work that we have all done here tonight, just by showing up… You can continue this work,” Hoch said.
Corcione then returned to the stage to thank the speakers as HCI interns passed out glow sticks. Attendees were first asked to snap their glow sticks if they or someone they know had been affected by sexual violence. If attendees had not yet snapped their glow sticks, they were then asked to snap them if they thought all sexual violence should be stopped.
Once all of the glow sticks were lit, Pearce led those in attendance on a symbolic walk to stop sexual assault, going from the pit of the Student Center to Discovery Hall and then back again.
“I think the event went really well tonight… It’s a hard event for people to be a part of, but I’m always really impressed with the Rowan students that show up for it,” Pearce said.