You Made it Here

Published 4 years ago -

Dana Foley, Staff Writer

Victims, or moreover survivors, of sexual assault have been prominent in the media lately. People’s anger of “victim blaming” and overlooking assault completely has hit home for people globally.

One in four women and one in six men have been sexually assaulted. Most people think that this type of thing would never happen on a small, private, Catholic college campus like Assumption, but the “Take Back the Night Event” is driven toward letting people know they are not alone and offer some type of empowerment. Senior Kylie O’Rourke said, “Don’t question their story.”

O’Rourke works with Pathways for Change – a local rape crisis center – and is also the relationship advocate/executive of Peers Advocating for Wellness (PAWS) She was assisted by Marie Vazquez in putting on this event.

On Thursday October 18th, students and faculty gathered in Kennedy 201 greeted with pizza and beverages. Last year’s event was held in the form of a march around campus, but its nature was more conversational this time. Students were encouraged, but not forced, to share their own experiences or statements.

The first half of the event involved students from various clubs reading poems and sharing statements on the severity of sexual assault, as well as its lasting backlash it has on its survivors.

The Women’s Studies Club read a three-part poem called “It’s 2012,” the Social Justice Ambassadors each read poems and members of various other campus organizations joined in, too.

Campus Police announced an app called “My Plan” which is a resource for sexual violence or domestic abuse. At the end of the first half, Sargent Gagne of Public Safety took to the front of the room. She has been at Assumption for six years now and took on the role as lead detective on sexual assault cases.

She acknowledged that there is a strong bias against Campus Police – often referred to as “campo” – but ensured people that all she wants to do is help. She mentioned, “When people come to me, you see the range of emotions they go through. Theirs highs and lows, and I’ll be there with them every step of the way. If you need me at 3a.m. at the hospital, I’ll be there.” She made it a point for survivors to know that “I’m not gonna make them do anything they don’t want to do.”

Once she finished, all the faculty and staff were asked to leave so the students would have a more comfortable setting to share if they so felt. It was asked that everyone’s identities stay anonymous to protect their own stories.

One student claimed that while she’d always hated campo because they were always ruining the fun and “not letting us into the valley.” However, she said that one of her friends recently got assaulted and her view of the officers changed completely. “They were so helpful with her and never let her feel unsafe or like she had to do it alone.”

O’Rourke mentioned “rape culture” which are things we do that we do not think would fall under this category, but hold a lasting affect on people. She lists, “Your parents telling you to be safe in college and watch your drink; asking your friends if what you’re wearing makes you look too slutty,” things almost everyone has heard or had run through their mind at some point. She reminds the audience “You own everything that happens to you.”

The remainder of the time was spent in an intimate circle of conversation, sharing experiences and listening to Sierra DeMulder’s empowering poem “Today Means Amen.” In it she says, “You made it this whole way: through the nights that swallowed you whole, the mornings that arrived in pieces. The scabs, the gravel, the doubt, the hurt, the hurt, the hurt is over. Today, you made it.”

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