Students Take Back the Night

Hundreds of East Carolina University students sent a loud-and-clear message on Monday, September 22, as the sun was setting over their campus: This night would be for understanding and fighting against rape and sexual assault, not being ignorant of it.

The “Take Back the Night” march kicked off a weeklong series of events to raise awareness about sexual violence and assault, a goal that turned a large group of students into a living, walking, and chanting symbol of protest and encouraged a few college-aged males to don high heels as part of the event “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

ECU freshman Benjamin Aydelette described the heels as “a little painful” and said he wore them to go through what women go through on a daily basis.

“A little bit odd, having cars honk at you when you’re walking, but overall it wasn’t that bad,” he said.

The near-500 students who marched down 10th Street as part of “Take Back the Night” on Monday included groups of sororities who also showed their support with decorative and colorful signs.

Nearly 500 students participated in the march. Four peer educators from the nonprofit group One in Four Inc.—22-year-olds Carter Shotwell, Frank Higginbotham, Rob Powell, and Chad Merica—led the ECU students by driving their RV from College Hill to Founders Road (the motor vehicle is also where the guys live as they travel for 10 months).

Even One in Four’s RV illustrates the gravity of the situation through a statistic that is written on the back of the vehicle: One of every four college women has survived rape or an attempted rape.

After the march, the group met in Hendrix Theatre, where they received advice on how to help a friend who has been the victim of an attack, including the following tips:

Encourage the victim to seek medical treatment. It’s important to go in the first three days because there still could be evidence that needs to be collected. Also, the victim might have been injured in the assault, but don’t force them to seek treatment.

Do not respond to the situation with violence by threatening the attacker. While discussing this issue, One in Four posed a question: Is your need for revenge more important than the victim’s need to heal?

Talk less and listen more.

Believe the victim. One in Four cited a statistic from the US Department of Justice, which found that only 5 percent of rape cases are reported to the police because victims do not feel that they’ll be believed.

Recommend seeing a counselor. A trained professional can also help a victim’s friends talk about their feelings, as well as offer further advice on how to help someone recover.

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