By Emily Landgraf
Confused faces peered out of windows and doors as young women and a few young men marched across the Lawrenceville campus to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence on Tuesday, April 21.
This march was a part of Vox’s Take Back the Night event, which was co-sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. It started in the Pub at 7 p.m. The goal of the event was to promote awareness about the sexual and domestic violence experienced by women all over the world.
“We give women and girls who have been sexually abused a chance to get it off their chest,” said Vox President Lindsey Peletier. “We’re here to listen to and support them if they want to open up.”
Before the march across campus, Susan Adams, from Womanspace Inc., spoke to the students who had gathered in the Pub and provided them with some information about sexual and domestic abuse, as well as some information about Womanspace.
According to its Web site, Womanspace Inc. is a nonprofit agency that serves Mercer County, providing services to individuals and families who have been impacted by domestic and sexual violence. The organization seeks to improve “the quality of life for women and their families” and offers counseling and support services, emergency services, education and training.
More than 1,300 rapes were reported in 2008, Adams said, 83 of which occurred in Mercer County.
“An American is sexually assaulted every two and half minutes,” Adams said. “And one in six women is the victim of an attempted or completed rape.”
Rape is the most underreported crime, she said, as only 2 percent of the cases ever make it to trial.
“You have to take care of yourself, watch out for yourself,” Adams said. “Watch your drinks at parties. But most importantly, watch out for each other. Make sure you know where your friends are. It happens everywhere, so please watch out for each other.”
A negative attitude toward all men is not the answer to this problem, Adams said.
“Men are part of the problem and part of the solution,” she said. “We need to work together to solve this problem.”
After Adams spoke, the students marched around the entire campus, chanting to spread awareness. At the front of the march was a banner and many in the crowd held signs.
As the marchers moved across campus, people stopped what they were doing to watch and to find out what was going on.
“It’s a really great way to raise awareness,” Peletier said. “People come out of their dorms like, ‘What the hell is going on?’”
After the march across campus, a candlelit vigil was held outside the library. A poem was read, and there was a moment of silence to remember all of the victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
Following the vigil, the students headed back to the Pub for a speak-out. Girls who had been sexually assaulted or knew others who had dealt with sexual or domestic abuse were given the opportunity to discuss it within the group. The young women present were able to discuss their experiences in a supportive setting.
“If you know anyone who will benefit from this, please bring them to the event next year,” said a member of Vox at the end of the evening.
The message of the evening can be best summed up by a section of the chant, “We have the power, we have the might. The streets are ours, take back the night!”