Sexual violence: Coastal raising awareness
On Oct. 3, CCU hosted the Take Back the Night rally and marched against sexual violence.
The event is part of the Sexual Violence Awareness week which is took place from Oct. 2 to 5.
Take Back the Night is one of the many events that the campus hosted that week, but this one may be the most powerful.
The event consisted of emotional and powerful speakers, a rally and a march against sexual violence.
The night began with opening remarks from Dean Sarah Hottinger and several others who spoke on the topic at hand, along with Chris Donevant-Haines, assistant director of Counseling Services, and Sean Pierce, a counselor, who went through and taught the crowd the chants for the rally.
Then, the march started – people were walking throughout campus yelling “Coastal unite, take back the night” and many other chants that supported the cause.
The night ended at Lib Jackson Courtyard where the microphone was opened for anyone who had something to say. At first, people were hesitant about coming to speak, then more and more gained confidence as they watched others. About 10 to 15 people spoke out that night.
Nicole Service, volunteer coordinator at the Rape Crisis Center in Myrtle Beach, talked about the importance in each survivor's story.
“There is power in telling your story,” said Service. “For every survivor that speaks out, there are multiple more that hear something that they need to hear and come forth.”
Nationally, 1 in 4 women that report sexual violence cases are women from college.
Service said the most important message they can send is understanding.
“We believe you and it’s not your fault,” said Service.
That is what students who participated wanted survivors to know.
Junior sociology major Ansha Wilds believes that these kinds of events are important to have for survivors and even more important for male survivors.
“I’ve been an advocate for the Rape Crisis Center and I began working with SHORE after I quit one of my jobs to bring awareness to victims, specifically male ones,” said Wilds.
Wilds emphasized how important she thinks these events are so that students can see that they aren’t alone; there are people that will listen. It also provides a voice for those who believe that they don’t have one.
This march reaches students like Ross Miller, a brother in the Kappa Alpha Order, whose mother was a victim of sexual assault.
“KA brothers are considered modern gentlemen, and we practice having a strong respect for women,” said Miller. “So, we have to practice what we preach.”
Ina Seethaler, director of Women’s and Gender Studies, believes that this event will wake people up who don’t generally deal with the issue of sexual violence on a day-to-day basis.
“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this,” Seethaler said. “This is a really good tool to shake things up and raise awareness.”
She wants students to know there are counseling services that want to and are there to help, and that students shouldn’t be afraid to use them.
“This is an issue that exists, is prevalent and we can’t stay silent,” said Seethaler. “Victims are not alone.”
There are many resources for on and off campus to help survivors speak up and get the help they deserve.