sexual assault

Shatter the Silence

Yesterday, I went to Take Back the Night at my university. This was my fourth Take Back the Night! The event included a march throughout campus, an opportunity for survivors to speak out about their experiences with sexual assault, a glow stick vigil, and many opportunities for education about sexual assault and the resources available on my campus.

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Sadly I don’t have any pictures from my first Take Back the Night in 2013

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The crowd at Take Back the Night 2016 in Oxford, MS.

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The chancellor of the University of Mississippi and I at Take Back the Night 2017 in Oxford, MS

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Executive members (past and present) of Rebels Against Sexual Assault at Take Back the Night 2018 in Oxford, MS

 

It is empowering to march down the streets chanting:

Shatter the Silence! / Stop the Violence!

People Unite! / Take Back the Night!

What do we want? / Justice. / When do we want it? / Now!

The people united / will never be divided.

We have the power. / We have the right. / We are here / to Take Back The Night.

I won’t be shamed. / I won’t be blamed.

Take Back My Life.  /   Take Back The Night.

This year I participated in the speak out portion of Take Back the Night. This can be difficult, but it was definitely worth it.

You can read what I said below:


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University of Mississippi Adventures in 2017

I might complain about how boring Oxford and Mississippi in general tend to be, but living here has exposed me to quite a few adventures. Some might not consider these ventures, but I’m not one who is naturally inclined to speak up. My talent is blending in so participating in each of these events was definitely adventurous for me!

Being involved with activism, foreign language/international education, and the LGBT community on campus and in Oxford has opened my mind and filled my days. Here are my Top 5 University of Mississippi Adventures in 2017!

1.) Sexpert Training at the University of Mississippi

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Planned Parenthood from Memphis gave us the sex education that I’d always wished for. I definitely would have understood more as a young person if I could have had this at a younger age.

Sexperts is a sexual health peer education program for young adults in the area surrounding Memphis (West Tennessee, Crittenden County, Arkansas, or North Mississippi). The training is fun, comprehensive, and equips us to be leaders among their peers and friends in sexual health education. After going through eight hours of training, Sexperts are able and encouraged to implement programs and events on their campus and in the community after the training.

I know not everyone supports Planned Parenthood or sex education, but I think it’s important to be well versed on the physical and mental impacts of various activities for lack of a better term. Whether one is already active, will be in the future, or is just curious and doesn’t want to rely on the internet and gossip as their education, programs like this are a great place to learn!

2.) Take Back the Night at the University of Mississippi

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This was an event that I helped plan. I did this through an organization that I’ve been active in my entire undergraduate career, Rebels Against Sexual Assault.

The event meant a lot to me and was definitely a cause for growth and more self-acceptance in my life

Take Back The Night (TBTN) represents the earliest world-wide stand against sexual violence, especially violence against women (although at the University of Mississippi, we did not put an emphasis on any one group of survivors). TBTN events began happening in the 1960’s. These events grew into hundreds of events on college campuses and in communities of all sizes and locations. The unifying theme was protest of sexual violence and support for survivors.

Luckily, the University of Mississippi has many resources, but that does not mean that our students are not affected by these issues.

3.) World Passport Event from the University of Mississippi

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I was the president of German Club last semester and we partnered with other international and foreign language organizations to bring international education to schools in rural north Mississippi. For this event, we visited Oakhurst Intermediate School in Clarksdale today for our World Passport event! We taught fifth and sixth graders there about world German culture and language! There were also tables representing Tanzania, China, Jordan, and Australia!

I am hoping to participate in more World Passport events like this one. We intend on increasing the representation at these events and reaching more young people in our surrounding communities!

4.) Pride Parade in Oxford, Mississippi

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Before the flag capes were on.

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Outfits complete.

This was Oxford (and my) second pride parade. It was just as good as the first!

During the second year of celebrating sexual and gender diversity in our Southern college town, a University of Mississippi professor said, “Everyone should come. This is for everybody. If you’re LGBTQ, you should come. If you’re an ally, you should come. If you just like parties and parades, you should come. Everybody is welcome.”

I think this is a great message that is not always heard. I hope for a future where “everybody is welcome” is the default.

5.) Out of Darkness Suicide Walk at the University of Mississippi

Members of the Oxford community and the University of Mississippi came together Sunday, Oct. 15, to shed light on suicide awareness and prevention for this year’s second annual Out of the Darkness Walk. I wrote messages on the balloon to send to my friends who are no longer with us due to their own battles with suicide.

Hosted by the Mississippi Chapter of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, the walk offered participants an opportunity to make friends and find emotional support. The walk was created to raise funds for education, advocacy, research, and support programs for those impacted by suicide.

We raised a lot of money, which was great! I know we had an immeasurable impact on all attendees because of the unending support and love at this event.


All of these opportunities and the wonderful people I’ve met through them are part of why I love living in Oxford so much. Of course I love to venture far and wide, but I’m glad to call this place home right now.

How do you adventure in the place you call home?