Last Wednesday our agency participated in the University of Mary Washington’s annual Take Back the Night event. The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault has been involved with this event in the past, however, this was my first year attending or participating. (For those of you who are not familiar with Take Back the Night, you can see our March 13th blog for a bit of the history of this event).
In the weeks leading up to the actual event our agency spent a lot of partnering with student organizations, campus administrators and other community agencies learning about how to plan a successful Take Back the Night. I thought that with all of the time and energy we had put into planning the event that I knew exactly what to expect. However, nothing could have prepared me for the emotionally charged and inspirational event that took place on campus that evening. Seeing so many young people united to end sexual violence in our community despite the cold temperatures and the temperamental weather truly inspired me as a professional, but also as an individual. Watching young survivors of sexual and relationship violence share their stories with their peers as a way to heal, a way to educate and a way to reach out a hand for survivors who have not yet come forward reminded me of the resiliency of the human spirit and filled me with renewed hope for the countless survivors of sexual violence in our community. I will forever be touched by their stories and by their bravery.
Testimonials were followed by a candlelight vigil that took place on Ball Circle that acted as a way to bring survivors, loved ones and allies together to bear witness to the sexual violence that has forever impacted their own lives. Standing and looking out into a circle of over 100 members of the UMW community dedicating their candles to loved ones who had been impacted by sexual violence served as a hauntingly beautiful reminder of the widespread impact of violence and the profound effect that it has. I will carry the compassion, bravery and solidarity shown that night with me forever.
I feel truly honored to have been a part of this important event and I look forward to the opportunity for our agency to participate in the future. (If you are interested in the opening words shared by me, Kristin Harding, you can find them here: Take Back the Night Speech 2012)
With this renewed sense of passion and hope for the future, I am excited to share the opportunity for you to learn more about violence in our community at RCASA’s 1st Annual Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in Collaboration with the Child Advocacy Task Force this weekend. Join us on Friday for keynote speaker Ruby White-Starr followed by simultaneous prevention and intervention trainings and on Saturday for a trauma-informed art therapy workshop by Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D, ATR-BC.
The flyer with more information is available here: RCASA’s First Annual Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in collaboration with the Child Advocacy Taskforce
Please register at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Q5GFBZL
Receive a $25 discount when you register for both days.