Take back the night: Open mic, march create awareness

SPEAK OUT—People march and yell chants to raise awareness for sexual assault and violent prevention awareness on the East Los Angeles College campus last Thursday.
SPEAK OUT—People march and yell chants to raise awareness for sexual assault and violent prevention awareness on the East Los Angeles College campus last Thursday.                                C/N Diego Linares


By Diego Linares

More than 200 people attended and participated in the seventh annual Take Back the Night event last Thursday to spread sexual assault and violence prevention awareness.

For health professor Andrea Owens, having a space for people to share their stories, then spreading a positive message by getting the crowd outside and active was a gratifying experience.

“Oh my gosh, it is so satisfying,” Owens said. “To see an event like that come together, and to see people feel safe enough to share their stories, and then just get to go crazy and march around the campus, that was a lot of fun.”

Members from the East Los Angeles College Women’s and Men’s Support Center, East Los Angeles Women’s Center and ELAC Sexual Assault Awareness and Violence Education Team organized and participated in the Survivor Speak-Out open mic held in Ingalls Auditorium and Candlelight March around the ELAC campus.

Owens said that the speak-out was meant to be a space where people can have a supportive environment when opening up about their experiences or things witnessed.

“It gives students, and really anybody who wants to attend, the ability to empower themselves by sharing their story,” Owens said.

“This year, it was kind of unique. Usually it’s just students that do it, (but) this was the first year I remember professors sharing a story.”

Prevention Specialist for ELAWC Osvaldo “Ozzie” Cruz understands how difficult it can be for any sex to divulge such personal information.

“What’s important to acknowledge and recognize is that in male-dominant culture, men are not encouraged to speak out,” Cruz said.

“It’s really creating an awareness that spaces are created for men to be able to share, just as they are being created for women.”

Cruz is part of a Men’s Circle presented by the ELAC Student Health Center and ELAWC designed to help males affected by sexual and family violence.

The group sessions started on Feb. 9 and will run until May 24 from 4:40 to 6:40 p.m. in room 131 of the G8 building.

Owens is a member of the ELAC Women’s and Men’s Support Center who holds meetings Monday through Thursday in room 127 of the G8 building.

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