Night raises sexual abuse awareness

A candlelighting ceremony was held at Take Back the Night in honor of all victims of domestic violence.

A candlelighting ceremony was held at Take Back the Night in honor of all victims of domestic violence.

On April 28, students and faculty came together in Billingsly Student Center against dating violence.

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Take Back The Night Rally made its debut on the campus of Missouri Southern.

The event included information booths on dating violence, including early signs of abuse to statistics on violence.

Present at the event was also guest speakers from the Lafayette House Amy Schillaci, and Faustina Abrahms.

Those in attendance at the event had the opportunity to see work from the Clothesline Project. This included T-shirts designed with messages from abuse victims to their attackers.

“It’s a real cleansing process,” Linn Hanshaw, of Lafayette House, said. “Sometimes they don’t realize how angry they were.”

Music by the band Kufara, whose members include Dr. Ree Wells, professor of sociology, and Dr. Joy Dworkin, professor of English, played at the event.

Hanshaw said the event started

back in the early 1970s.

“Women between the ages of 16-25 are at the highest risk for sexual assault,” Hanshaw said.

She said because most attacks take place on college campuses, Southern was a good location for the event.

“This event is for women not to feel scared to step forward,” she said.

Having been a victim advocate for more than 10 years, Hanshaw said she also was a victim of dating violence.

“Back then there was no such thing as date rape,” Hanshaw said. “I just thought ‘this must be what you are suppose to do when you are in a relationship.'”

She said it wasn’t until years later when she saw a movie on television with the exact same scenario as hers was when she realized what had taken place.

Jason Calvin junior psychology major, said the event raises awareness and encourages victims to come forward.

However, the term “victim” was not favored by some of those in attendance.

Linda Dickson, freshman psychology major, said her experience with dating violence made her stronger, and she feels those who have endured dating violence should be treated with more respect.

“It victimizes them even further when you call them victims,” said “We’re not victims; we’re survivors.”

The Students Coalition Against Child Abuse co-sponsored the event.

J.J. Spurlin, director of SCACA, said the event was a good cause.

“We try to get involved with as much stuff in the community as we can,” Spurlin said.

He said while Southern is a “relatively-safe campus,” students should still be educated on what dangers are possible.

“I think forewarned is forearmed,” Spurlin said.

Spurlin said removing at least one aspect of violence can help others who are suffering in other ways.

“When you see a battered wife, you can usually find a battered child,” he said. “Although children are our mission, if it deals with any type of violence, we’re going to deal with it.”

The evening concluded with a candle light vigil to not only acknowledge those who have been victims of sexual assault, but to also allow anyone to share their story.

Amy Lane, Community Services Specialist for the Lafayette House, said last year during the Lafayette House’s fiscal year, they served 41 women for sexual assault and 700 for domestic violence.