Victims stand up

“University of Akron students and members of the community gathered in the Polsky Building atrium Friday night to speak out against sexual assault and violence in an event called Take Back the Night. The protest opened with guest speaker Judge Alison McCarty, followed by a speak-out session and finished with a march through downtown Akron.”

University of Akron students and members of the community gathered in the Polsky Building atrium Friday night to speak out against sexual assault and violence in an event called Take Back the Night.

The protest opened with guest speaker Judge Alison McCarty, followed by a speak-out session and finished with a march through downtown Akron. The event began at 6 p.m. with informational booths set up for those attending.

The Rape Crisis Center, Support in Sisterhood, Akron University Women’s Studies, Battered Women’s Shelter Community Outreach Center, University of Akron Police Department and the University of Akron Counseling, Testing and Career Center were on hand. Each group set up tables and offered information to participants. Free safety whistles were given out by UAPD.

McCarty took center stage at 6:30 p.m. and delivered a powerful and inspiring speech.

McCarty said she has seen many sexual assault and domestic violence cases during her time as a
municipal court judge for eight and half years and as a former county prosecutor.

McCarty expressed the importance of teaching our youth to respect others. She said that parents and other community members should lead by example, demonstrating respect and showing the younger generations how people should interact with each other.

McCarty also spoke of how easy it is for college students to become victims of sexual assault.

McCarty stressed that college students are at great risk when alcohol is involved, even more so in situations such as parties where you do not know many of the people around you.

The second point McCarty emphasized that people need to be aware of what is going on in their community.

She encouraged her audience to check official Web sites and research the neighborhood you live in so you are aware of the sexual predators living in the area.

Being aware of what is going on in the courts with sexual offenses is important she said.

The Speak Out session was next, with victims of sexual assault sharing their stories. Victims got up to tell their stories to a supportive audience.

Each told a story of a personal experience, which helped put a face on the victims of violent crime.

The night was capped off with a one-mile march through downtown Akron.

Throughout the evening, participants were encouraged to become more aware, realize there is strength in numbers and know that help is available to victims.

The Rape Crisis Center can be reached at (330) 434-7273, and the Battered Women’s Shelter Community Outreach Center can be contacted at (330) 374-0740.