Students take to streets

“Rape and other forms of sexual abuse are issues many individual’s lives and the college age population continues to be one of the highest afflicted groups. The University of Akron’s student organization L.I.P. Service and other women’s rights and sexual assault prevention organizations sought to address this issue with Take Back The Night, an event that was held on the night of Oct.”

Rape and other forms of sexual abuse are issues many individual’s lives and the college age population continues to be one of the highest afflicted groups.

The University of Akron’s student organization L.I.P. Service and other women’s rights and sexual assault prevention organizations sought to address this issue with Take Back The Night, an event that was held on the night of Oct. 10 at the First Grace United Church of Christ. The event was organized in an attempt to raise awareness of sexual violence, to aid victims in recovery and to work towards a solution.

The event featured various speakers on the topics of being a rape or sexual violence survivor and on ways to prevent and deal with the issue in Akron and elsewhere. Alyssa Berthiaune, vice president of L.I.P. Service felt that the event was, really important, especially for Akron’s campus and community, because sexual assault especially for women of college age is one of the higher percents of the groups that are being affected. It’s really about getting our voices out there and educating people. The more we talk about it the more it’s not going to be such a stigma in our society and we can really bring an end to it.

Seventy-five percent of sexual assault, violence, or abuse victims know their attackers, and in many cases the crime is never reported. Many of the event’s speakers cited the social stigma surrounding rape and sexual violence that leads to the victim blaming themselves for a crime.

Dana Zedak, director of services for the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties summarized the event.

We’re bringing women together. Letting women know it’s ok to speak out about sexual assault if they’re survivors. That they can speak and they can say that this has happened to them and that it’s been difficult for them, Zedak said.

The Rape Crisis center provides free and confidential aid and support for victims of sexual violence through a 24-hour crisis hotline (330-434-RAPE), advocacy in the hospital and criminal justice settings, and more services.

The event concluded with a night march through Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood. A group of more than 75 victims and activists of both sexes took to the streets with signs and chants stating phrases such as, We Can Stop Rape and Take Back The Night.

Cindy, an Akron resident who preferred her last name not be published, witnessed the march as it passed by her home, I think it’s definitely a good cause; everyone needs to be aware of sexual abuse, and just education is a very good thing.

Geri Ashbey was among with march participants and stated, I’m thrilled that the men are here; they’re real men to be here, and that some of the younger women are here. There are all types of people. It’s just a perfect evening. I shed a few tears, but it helps you feel better. It helps you feel like you’re never alone.

Katarina Cook, an event participant and Akron traffic court magistrate agreed with the significance of Take Back The Night.

People need to come together and if we don’t have forums like this how do we find each other? It’s very important to me to touch base with people who have like-concerns, Cook said. If you don’t have this how do we find each other and network? Take Back The Night concluded with a labyrinth walk, music and excitement over the progress made against sexual violence.

For more information on sexual violence and involvement in L.I.P. Service stop by the Women’s Studies office, room 58, North Shrank on campus. Or, attend the Halloween L.I.P. Service recruitment event at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24 in room 58 North Shrank.

L.I.P. Service promotes awareness of gender equity and maintains gender neutrality within the organization; anyone is welcome.