The University of Richmond held Take Back the Night, a national event held by colleges during sexual assault awareness month, on April 3 to give survivors and allies a safe space to share their stories.
The Center for Awareness, Response, and Education and the Peer Sexual Misconduct Advisors hosted the event. The PSMAs were present during the event to provide support for the people who attended, giving out information about the resources available on campus.
The event was split into an indoor and outdoor session to allow people to express themselves in different ways. The indoor portion allowed for people to speak in a more private environment while the outdoor portion allowed for some to claim their stories and speak in a public space for anyone to hear.
“We offer a few different options to share, recognizing that survivors are not homogeneous, and have varying needs,” Kaylin Tingle, UR’s healthy relationships and violence prevention educator, said.
The a capella group Chords performed for both the indoor and outdoor sessions, and represented an artistic element that some take when expressing themselves, Tingle said. There were also poetry and journal entries read.
During the indoor portion, a talking crystal was passed between people sitting in a circle with candles used as lighting. When holding the talking crystal, people could share or take a moment of silence before passing it to the next person.
“I think there's a conversation that Take Back the Night… is trying to start and maintain that's needed. The sad truth is that sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence happen frequently but often fly under the rader,” first-year Sam Chanenson, a member of Chords, said.
During the outdoor portion, people had the opportunity to go up to a podium in the forum and speak out. Anonymous submissions turned in ahead of time were also read by the PSMAs during this time.
“It brings a lot of solidarity first of all, and it means a lot to survivors and allies, just having other people to be able to relate with and talk in a safe space,” sophomore and Chords music director Clayvon Grimes said.
Chanenson did not know how Chords would fit into the event, Chanenson was grateful to have contributed as a Chords member and noticed the participants appreciated it, Chanenson said.
The PSMAs provided pillows and blankets for attendees to feel more comfortable. They also provided tissues and water throughout the event, as well as teal ribbons for sexual assault awareness.
“Events like this help to educate and elevate voices,” Chanenson said. “I know it can be an uncomfortable subject, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. I think quite the opposite, in fact, and more education like this should happen.”
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