By Brian Villalba
Survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse shared pain, courage and solidarity at East Los Angeles College’s fourth annual “Take Back the Night.”
With dozens of students in attendance in the ELAC G8 foyer, survivors shared stories of abuse and survival. Speakers moved those listening to tears of empathy. A speaker said that being able to speak about the abuse is a part of the healing process.
Another said that society always tells women not to get raped, but men need to be told not to rape.
East Los Angeles Women’s Center facilitated the event. Program Director Sonia Rivera of the women’s center spoke for a few minutes about the women’s center and the services offered there and on campus at ELAC.
Rivera encouraged speakers to come up and share, offer words of encouragement and compassion for those who did come up.
Both men and women spoke about issues ranging from child abuse and rape to restraint and compassion.
The ELAC Violence Intervention Team coordinated the event. Sonia Lopez, Dean of Student Services and Tiffany Rice, Ph. D. Associate Professor of Psychology are the faculty leadership.
“I thought (TBTN) was an amazing event this year, as it is every year,” said Rice.
For this year’s event about half of the speakers were men, and for Rice, this was important.
“It was wonderful to have so many male speakers in addition to our female speakers. Their honesty and the risks they took to share their stories was admirable.
“Through their voices, they can heal and their stories are empowering others to heal as well,” Rice said.
After the survivor speakout, the group of students, faculty and supporters carried glow sticks instead of candles to comply with fire codes. They walked on campus as a group before meeting up back at the foyer for a group photo.
“Take Back the Night” is part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
It is one of the many events planned at ELAC, which include activities such as self-defense demonstration and sexual assault awareness training for student athletes.
The center’s motto and the resources and programs provided by it show that “The Women’s Center is a place where your silence is heard.”
The Women’s Center is open 24 hours a day seven days a week.
They have a rape and battering hotline and an AIDS hotline, 800-585-6231 and 800-400-7432, respectively.
The programs and services provided at the Women’s Center include mental health and therapeutic parenting services, domestic violence services and sexual assault, rape and battering services.
In 2012, the Women’s Center received more than 3000 hotline calls and more than 900 women and their 2000 children received counseling support.