Katie Hurlock, Staff Writer
This past Thursday, many Mary Baldwin students attended the moving Take Back the Night event at Miller Chapel. The gathering, held annually, spreads awareness about domestic and sexual violence, and consists of presentations from students and the local New Directions Center, along with a silent march around campus to raise awareness.
“Take Back the Night started out of a movement for women to not be afraid,” said the Outreach Director, “It is reclaiming the freedom to go out. People really don’t like to talk about violence, but it is important to be aware of how it affects everyone.”
The evening began with an introduction from New Directions Representatives, explaining the purpose of the evening. Then, several Mary Baldwin students presented both their own original and others’ stories about personal experiences with sexual assault and domestic violence. Two of the most unique performers included freshman Jessica Mondragon, who told a personal story in Spanish, and freshman Alyssa Huffman, who sang.
Following the presentations, participants marched silently around campus, holding candles, awareness banners, and purple flags, causing many who were passing by to ask what was going on. Later, a New Directions Representative remarked how she could not hear anyone speak at all—the participants truly achieved the goal at hand. The evening concluded with a brief performance by the Anointed Voices of Praise and a prayer.
Students named many reasons for attending the event.
“I’ve known people who’ve been through domestic violence, including in my own family,” said Kathryn Laflin, class of 2015.
Another sophomore, Siobhan Beza, stated “I would like to be more educated on the subject, so if I’m asked about it, I don’t give false information.”
Linnea Barklund, ‘13, added “It’s a serious issue and we in the MBC community need to stand together to make change,” a sentiment many of the attendees seemed to agree with.
To get involved with the New Directions Center, call 540-885-7273 ext. 101, and ask for Therese Bruchett. Students 16 and older can participate as Level 1 volunteers, which involves office and other “behind the scenes” work, while students 18 and older are able to volunteer at Level 2, which involves direct interaction with clients. New Directions is always looking for help, so do not hesitate to call.
Additionally, if you or someone you know at Mary Baldwin or in the local area is having an issue related to domestic abuse or sexual violence, you may call New Directions Hotline, 1-800-56-HAVEN, or the Virginia Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-838-8238, for assistance and support.