Raising awareness of sexual assault

Allison Suesse

Seventy-five people, including students, victims of sexual assault and friends of victims, gathered to Take Back the Night on Tuesday.

The rally, which was held outside the Memorial Union, was organized to help promote awareness of sexual violence and to protest crimes in solidarity.

After making its presence felt outside, the group congregated in the Maintenance Shop to participate in an open mic session. Speakers including members of the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, ISU students, survivors of assault and their friends were encouraged to “rant, rage and reflect” as they candidly shared their experiences of sexual violence, poetry and stories, while the other members of the group offered encouragement and support.

Ashley Hand, director of ACCESS, said events like Tuesday’s are a positive way to raise awareness and shine a light on an issue that often goes unnoticed.

“Take Back the Night protests against sexual assault and serves as a way to provide support for victims,” Hand said.

She also said one of the biggest issues involved with sexual assault is that many cases go unreported and disregarded.

Along with offering support and empowerment to victims, Take Back the Night encourages students to speak out against sexual crimes. The organization gives a face to victims of such crimes when they usually keep silent.

Marissa Klousie, graduate assistant at the Sloss House, said there are a number of ways students at ISU can make a difference on the ISU campus.

“Students need to take the initiative to get educated on sexual assault,” Klousie said. “You have a voice. No means no.”

Take Back the Night was the first such event for Lauren Wise, freshman in child, adult and family services, who said that, after her experience, it would not be her last.

“It was a great experience,” Wise said. “It’s such an important issue, and hearing the stories was empowering.”

Outside of rallies and organized sessions, Klousie said there are a number of opportunities to get involved and raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault. She said two easy ways are enrolling in classes and volunteering at ACCESS to offer support to victims.