Sexual assault survivors share survival stories at Take Back the Night

By Ivan Cazares 

“What didn’t kill me made me stronger,” a survivor of sexual assault said during East Los Angeles College’s Take Back The Night event on April 27 at G3 Foyer.

“What we are seeing is that talking about (the trauma) is the beginning of the healing process,” ELAC’s Sexual Assault Awareness Education Director, Sonia Rivera said. The survivors’ emotions were visible when they spoke. Some broke down in tears but received moral support from fellow survivors and continued to share their stories.

SAAVE and the East Los Angeles Women’s Center have hosted the event for more than 10 years to advocate against sexual assault and domestic violence. Survivors are also given an opportunity to share their stories.

The first Take Back The Night march was held in Pennsylvania in 1975 after microbiologist Susan Alexander Speeth was stabbed to death blocks away from her home. The murder of the young microbiologist rallied citizens to advocate for women to be able to feel safe walking home at night.

The term “Take Back The Night” has been used worldwide to protest violence against women ever since.

After several survivors of sexual assault shared their stories in the G3 Foyer, attendees marched around the campus holding lit candles while chanting, “Women have the right to walk alone at night. Yes means yes and no means no, sexual assault has to go.”

(One thing most of the survivors who shared their stories have in common is that the person who abused them was someone they trusted like a family member, a friend of the family or their intimate partner at the time.) switch this paragraph with

The most common form of sexual assault is rape. About 20 million out of the approximately 112 million women in the United States have been raped, based on statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking’ website.

The most common forms of rape are date rape and rape by a family member or friend of the family. Based on reports by the U.S. Department of Justice approximately 69 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement happen in the residence of the victims.

Although the number of sexual assaults in the United States decreased from 1990 to 2010  based on statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, there is still a large number of rapes that go unreported.

The survivors who spoke at ELAC’s event all said it was difficult for them to report the person who assaulted them, because they didn’t think anyone would believe them.

Some allowed themselves to be abused continuously because their self-esteem was affected negatively.

Based on statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, 81 percent of women who face a form of sexaul abuse suffer from short term and long term afflictions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Members of ELAC’s Men’s Circle spoke at ELAC’s Take Back The Night to show their support and encourage other men to join the movement against sexual assault.

“It’s our turn as men to help support this movement,” Men’s Circle advisor Oswaldo Cruz said. He reminded attendees that although men aren’t as vulnerable as women when it comes to sexual assault, there are men who have faced it. The Men’s Circle is a support group for men who have faced sexuall assult themselves or have been affected by it because family members have been assaulted.

Those affected by sexual assault or domestic violence can call The ELAC Women’s and Men’s Center at (323) 780-6754 or can visit F5-315. The ELAC Women’s and Men’s Center is a branch of the East Los Angeles Women’s Center and provides support and educational material for those affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.

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