Every year Gannon University and the Erie community come together to “Take Back the Night,” an annual walk to end sexual violence across the country.
This year, we will also gather in Perry Square at 7 p.m. on April 7 to do the same. We come together from various backgrounds, as students and young adults, to stand up against the sexual-violence stigma that plagues our communities and college campuses.
According to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, at least one in four college women will be the victims of sexual assault during her academic career and at least 80 percent of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim.
In a small school like Gannon, one in four means one of your roommates if you live in North Hall. It means someone you eat lunch with. One in four is unacceptable, even one in 100,000 is unacceptable, which is why we come together to Take Back the Night.
During the walk, you’ll hear testimonials given from survivors of sexual assault and also be given access to resources in the community that can help you or others deal with the pain of sexual assault.
You can also visit www.takebackthenight.org to read testimonials from survivors and I encourage everyone who reads this article to visit the website and read them. Each is beyond impactful and continues to be a way for survivors to share their experience and try and make a difference.
Last year, Gannon made a record turnout for the event and this year, I think we can make an even bigger turnout. Please RSVP with the Center for Social Concerns for the event and share with all your friends.
Sexual assault happens to all socio-economic, gender variances, racial groups and religious groups. It is an epidemic that has plagued our communities for long enough.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
I truly believe in my heart that if our community of faith and love comes out for this event we will truly make a difference. If enough people experience the strength that our campus has in standing up against violence, then the rate of sexual violence on our campus and in our community will become nonexistent.
But to do that, we have to be honest about the reality that sexual violence exists in our society. We can’t look past it, we cannot tolerate it and we have to stand up against it when we are confronted with it. We must end the stigmas surrounding sexual violence and be refugees for all gender variances who have been sexually assaulted so that someday we don’t have to experience this.
Too often, I hear parents giving their children advice before they go off to school concerning “being safe after dark” and what bothers me isn’t that the conversation is happening (I think that’s fantastic!) but what concerns me is that the conversation has to happen.
Imagine a world that existed without date rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, etc. And that dream is a reality, but we have to stand up and make it known that we do not tolerate that behavior as a campus, as a community and as people.
Please join us again at 7 p.m. on April 7 in Perry Square and Take Back the Night.