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‘Take Back the Night’ Rally Supports Interpersonal Violence Survivors

By Clara Turnage

University of Mississippi

Members of the University of Mississippi community will gather Tuesday (April 11) on the Ole Miss Student Union Plaza to “Take Back the Night” during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The annual event brings attention to interpersonal violence and gives a space for survivors to feel heard, said Shelli Poole, assistant director of VIP: Survivor Support. The event will also include a march around campus, a keynote speaker and a resource fair.

“It’s really important for survivors to have a space to support each other and to realize that they’re not alone,” Poole said. “There’s so much silence and, often, shame around gender-based violence.

“This a place to break that silence and speak about it in a safe community.”

UM Violence Intervention and Prevention Services, Rally Against Sexual Assault and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies will kick off the rally at 5:30 p.m. with an opening address from Brent Marsh, dean of students, and a keynote address from Teresa Lefmann, an assistant professor of social work.

For more than 60 years, Take Back the Night has been a call to action to prevent sexual and interpersonal violence. Nearly 1 in 3 American women and 24% of men experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“It helps survivors know they’re not alone during this healing journey,” said Bhakti Patel, a second-year graduate student from Portland, Oregon, and graduate assistant for VIP: Survivor Support. “There are people and advocates and counselors on their side to help in any situation.”

More than 20 campus communities will host tables during the resource fair, including the University Police Department, Crime Stoppers and the University Counseling Center, which can offer services to students as needed or explain the reporting process. Having counselors and mandatory reporters on hand can help survivors navigate the ways to report, if they choose to do so, Poole said.

VIP: Survivor Support will also hold a raffle, with proceeds going to campus survivors. Prizes for the raffle include two tickets to see singer-songwriter Morgan Wallen, two free nights at Tru by Hilton and many gift cards to local businesses.

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