Friday, April 15, 2005
Students unite for Take Back the Night
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
A train of students snaked its way around campus chanting and carrying signs during OU’s eighth annual Take Back the Night, a national event to raise awareness about sexual assault. The students came together in the Oakland Center to publicly speak out against sexual assault and domestic violence and to tell their personal stories.
“All over Oakland County, victims are struggling to become survivors,” said Stacy Swanderski, detective for the Farmington Hills Police Department and the emcee for Take Back the Night. She said events like this help survivors find their voice and speak out to help others.
After a rally and the march around campus, students crowded together in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms to listen to their peers tell their stories of being a survivor. Many opened up to the room and expressed what they had been through for the first time.
One survivor, known to the group as Jamie, became the victim of incest by her father in junior high. While her father is still sitting in prison and she has received justice, she said it was still a struggle to overcome.
“Had I not gone through what I went through, I would not be the person I am today. And I love the person I am today,” said Jamie. “It’s life changing, but it doesn’t have to be life defining.”
Survivors in Oakland County and at OU have many resources including HAVEN, an organization devoted to sexual assault and domestic violence awareness; CARE House, a child safety advocate; OU’s Graham Health Center; and the OU Police Department (OUPD).
OU’s programs like Rape Aggression Defense and Take Back the Night are a few resources for the OU community to learn about sexual assault and protecting themselves. Those in the campus community who need to report sexual or domestic violence can go to the OUPD.
“The primary function of OUPD is to make this place a safe environment for students. We want to help,” said OUPD officer Nan Gelman. “We have a highly trained and sensitive staff that can handle the situation and, even if the person does not want to press charges, we can funnel them to the help they need.”