A series of events to raise awareness of sexual assault came to campus last week as part of GW Students Against Sexual Assault’s four-day “Take Back the Night” campaign.
Take Back the Night – a national foundation launched in 2001 – helps give a voice to sexual assault survivors, SASA President Emily Rasowsky said.
“We wanted to engage both the GW and D.C. communities in this issue as well as motivate students to want to create change,” Rasowsky said of the events.
This is SASA’s second year taking part in events, which are happening during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S.
The campaign began Wednesday with the Clothesline Project held in University Yard, where students could paint messages about rape and other forms of sexual assault on t-shirts that were then hung from a clothesline.
Another event called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was cancelled due to rain, but is rescheduled for Thursday, along with a candlelight vigil. Rasowsky said the walk is meant “to engage male students in the movement to stop sexual violence” by having them walk a mile in high-heeled shoes and feel what it is like to be in the shoes of a sexual assault survivor.
Each event was chosen to represent a specific struggle a sexual assault survivor faces and to bring the GW community together, Rasowsky said.
Moriah Silver, a co-founder of Voices Against Violence, and three sexual assault survivors spoke Thursday about sexual assault and challenged the audience with trivia questions on assault statistics.
Hearing the survivors’ frightening and straightforward stories of their personal accounts with sexual assault was the most meaningful part of the night for SASA’s communications chair Carsen Zarin.
“These women were some of the strongest women the audience would ever meet,” Zarin said.
Sophomore Sydnee Greenberg attended the speeches Thursday night and called it a difficult but important experience.
“As a young woman in college, despite how invincible I may think myself to be, it is important to realize that sexual violence is real and that any day it can affect me,” she said.
Rasowksy said that as long as people who hadn’t previously thought about sexual assault begin to care or at least think about the issue, the group has done something right.
“If I can walk away knowing that one person’s life was altered in some way, even in just those four days, then I have achieved all I need to,” Rasowky said.