Campus Students Rally to Support Victims of Violence
Penn State DuBois students, as well as faculty and staff members, and members of the community rallied in support of victims of violence at the annual Take Back the Night Rally held on campus Wednesday evening. Organized by members of the campus Students, Allies, Friends and Educators (SAFE) Club and the Penn State DuBois Women's Liaison Committee, the event is held each year to show support for women who have been victims of violence. The rally also provides those victims a venue to tell their stories, and to help others by sharing their experiences.
Leading up to the rally, the SAFE Club held the Clothesline Project on campus. For three days, T-shirts and fabric paint were made available to anyone who wished to decorate a T-shirt to spread their own message against domestic abuse or violence, or to honor someone who has been a victim. The shirts were then hung in the Student Union and in other areas around campus to raise awareness of these social evils.
Some survivors of abuse or violence chose to tell their stories at the rally, but were not identified in order to protect their own privacy. SAFE Club president and cofounder Staci Neal said sharing their experiences is a very important part of the healing process for those survivors. She said, "Very often, telling the story is what turns a victim into a survivor."
Because of the healing that comes from sharing, campus students stay inspired to hold the rally each year. "It's so important for women to have the opportunity to tell their story, and it's rare that you have that opportunity," said Jaci Gordon, the vice president and cofounder of the SAFE Club. "We want to continue to give them the platform to be heard from."
Student Marilyn Lotito of Punxsutawney echoed that support for sharing stories of survival as she sat in the Student Union, decorating a shirt for the Clothesline Project. Lotito said, "Domestic violence happens to women all the time and it's swept under the rug. People don't want to talk about it because they're ashamed. This brings it to the forefront where everyone can see it, and then they have to think about it."