Without fail, April comes around every year, replacing piles of snow with puddles of water and mugs of hot chocolate with tall, cool glasses of lemonade. But April brings much more than Spring-time cheer, it also brings attention to an important topic.
April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, causing people all across the country to hold marches, campaigns, and gatherings to discuss the seriousness of this subject and to remind those who have survived sexual assault that they are not alone. IUP is no exception.
On April 15th, the Haven Project at IUP will be hosting its annual Take Back the Night event, an empowering evening dedicated to encouraging others to stand up against sexual violence and support survivors. The event will commence at 8PM in the Putt-Delaney courtyard with a march through campus. During this march, participants are encouraged to join in on chants focused on stopping sexual violence. The march will end in the HUB Ohio Room, where a speak out will then begin. At the speak out, anybody is welcome to speak about their experiences with sexual violence, whether they are victims, friends/family members of a victim, or simply feel passionate about the subject. The event will then end with an empowering message delivered by members of the Haven Project.
I will certainly be in attendance, and if you are on the fence about doing so, here are a few reasons that may lead you to join me!
1.) 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and 1 out of every 33 American men has experienced an attempted or completed rape in his lifetime (RAINN). By attending Take Back the Night, you can raise awareness of just how many people experience sexual assault and learn how to reduce these numbers until they no longer have to exist.
2.) Victims of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide (RAINN). When you attend Take Back the Night, you will help to spread the notion that victims are not alone. They do not have to feel ashamed, depressed, or as if they are to blame for what happened. You will show those who have been effected by sexual assault that help is available.
3.) 68% of assaults are not reported to the police (RAINN). If you choose to attend Take Back the Night, you will not only help to make sure that victims feel like they have somewhere to turn, but you will also help them realize that they do not have to be afraid to report what happened to them. Reporting will not make them cowardly, and it will not make them weak.
All in all, if you choose to attend Take Back the Night, you will be making a big difference in a worldwide issue. You will take part in educating the public about the seriousness of sexual assault, and you will empower those who have stayed silent about their experiences with sexual violence.
Remember, if you experience violence, you are not alone. Help is available. Visit www.iup.edu/haven for more information and resources.