Home / Public safety / Sexual assault victims raise awareness with ‘Take Back the Night’ event

Sexual assault victims raise awareness with ‘Take Back the Night’ event

By

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sexual assault victims, counselors and friends raised their candles Wednesday night at the “Take Back The Night” event on the Reitz Union Colonnade.

The candlelight vigil came after community members read testimonials about the impact of sexual violence, ranging from rape victims to their partners.

April marks the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, during which victim advocates from organizations at the University of Florida and Alachua County hope to create greater awareness of rape.

Ashley Cortez, a victim advocate with the Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center and an organizer of the event, emphasized the need for better public understanding in order to stop sexual assault.

Rachel Hennessey, a peer educator with Sexual Trauma/Interpersonal Violence Education at Gatorwell, began the open mic portion of the evening, telling the story of her sexual assault. Hennessey said events like “Take Back the Night” exist because rape and sexual assault are so misunderstood.

“Sexual assault and rape are not about sex, they’re about power,” she said. “Rape is a violent crime. It can happen to anyone.”

The crowd applauded Santa Fe College sophomore Elliott Capers for being one of the few men at the event when he spoke about his girlfriend’s sexual assault and how it affected them both. Capers said he went to the event to show his support for her.

The event concluded with victims and allies of all ages lifting about 75 candles in the air, one by one, and then bowing their heads.

Victim advocates are available through the Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center as well as the UF Police Department.

Rebekah Geier edited this story online.

About Christina DeVarona

Christina is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

Check Also

Hostages released from inside the Community First Credit Union run to police officers behind a SWAT van outside the bank in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday Dec. 1, 2016. (Bob Mack  /The Florida Times-Union via AP)

Bank Robbery Hostages In Jacksonville Freed, Suspect In Custody

After a bank robber put a gun to the back of one hostage's head, SWAT team members resolved at the first chance they had Thursday to storm a north Florida credit union where nearly a dozen people were being held captive, authorities say.