A venue for ending the silence

By Robin Pircher

Students and community members, victims and supporters threw up their hands and screamed as they circled around the amphitheater behind Memorial Hall last night.

The scream represented the end of silence on the abuse of women and the end of silence on sexual violence. It was a scream to end fear and initiate awareness, said Dorothy Edwards, director of the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center.

The participants of the third annual Take Back the Night, a march designed to raise awareness of violence toward women, held a silent march down Limestone Street, circled around campus and ended with a celebration of women sharing their stories and an empowerment concert to encourage victims.

About 26 victims of sexual violence and their supporters shared personal stories, poems and inspirational words in front of 2,309 pictures of local women — also people affected by violence — that were projected on the wall behind the stage. Each woman was someone affected by some form of violence.

“I encourage these victims to honor their journey in its own time,” Edwards said. “There’s no right way to do this. Take these steps when you’re ready.”

Posters of drawings and words of encouragement, tables of information for victims and painted T-shirts were available for the crowd of nearly 200, who were dotted with buttons that read “mother,” “sister,” “friend,” “daughter” and “girlfriend.”

“One in three UK students will encounter violence before graduation,” Edwards said. These actions of violence can include sexual or physical abuse, assault and stalking, she said.

Events like Take Back the Night, including the empowerment concert, help show women that there is support and awareness surrounding victims to help them recover, Edwards said.

“I would tell victims to always stay on the front burner,” Edwards said. “To reduce violence, people have to get involved, then take action. (Take Back the Night) provides a venue.”

The event was organized by student volunteers and Abigail Weidhuner, a Spanish freshman, said people can continue to get involved with the cause on campus after the march.

“The VIP center is where these people can come feel safe and others can volunteer to help,” Weidhuner said. “You can make sure the future is different.”