The University of Tennessee’s Women’s Coordinating Council invited members of the UT community to stand together as a community during their annual ‘Take Back the Night’ event on Thursday, Oct. 19.
The purpose of this event was to bring awareness and eliminate all forms of sexual and domestic violence. Students were invited to partake in the silent march and hold signs to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors. The march concluded at the Torchbearer with a Candlelight Vigil.
Neesha Arter is an author and journalist from New York City and served as this year’s keynote speaker. Arter shared her own experience dealing with sexual assault when she was 14-years-old. During her story, Arter fought back tears in remembrance of her experience.
“You can pretend like it didn’t happen, but it is bound to come out in some way,” she said.
Arter wants people struggling with domestic violence and sexual assault to know that it is necessary to confide in someone and share your story with others. She inspired other women to get up and share their stories.
A UT senior, who wants to remain anonymous, shared her story for the first time to the audience. She explained how she had never told anyone of her story before due to the backlash she received from her peers.
“I felt so inspired by the bravery of Neesha telling her story, so I just thank you for allowing me the safe space to tell mine,” she said.
Knoxville resident David Strawbridge shared that he was there in support of a friend that dealt with domestic abuse.
“My friend never spoke out against domestic violence and lost her life because of it, so I refuse to sit back and be silent on her behalf,” he said.
Strawbridge appreciates events like these and wants to be involved in the movement in any way he can.
UT’s Student Counseling Center provides counseling, psychotherapy and mental health outreach and consultation services. If you or someone you know is in need of help outside regular business hours, you can contact crisis-trained professional at 974-HELP (4357).
Featured image by Arial Starks
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo