March For Victims Of Sexual Abuse

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

April 7, 2005

Activists rallied in Downtown Charlottesville Thursday night, April 7 with only one thing in mind: Stopping Sexual Abuse.

"It was very empowering, said Becky Reid, who attended the rally. "Again, just recognizing an experience that so many people have had, but has been ignored by so many members of the community."

The event included speakers, testimonies, and student performances all meant to end the silence.

"We live in a world where 50 percent of people who have been sexually assaulted never tell anyone, so it's an incredible thing for these people to be able to get up and tell people about it," said organizer Sloane Kuney.

One of these people is University of Virginia student Annie Hylton, who made headlines for pressuring the university to take more action when she says she was sexually assaulted.

"I think the policies have taken a step in the right direction, but there's definitely more work that needs to be done," said Hylton. "So the students and community need to come together to continue to make sure that the administration gets the policies to where they need to be."

Although the event included mostly female speakers, many men attended to show their support.

"99 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are committed by men, so in my mind that makes it a men's issue. Real change isn't going to happen until real men start taking responsibility for this cause," said Kyle Boyton. He is member of the university's Sexual Assault Peer Advocacy, and attended the rally.

But UVa students weren't the only ones at the event. For example, Pat Alther comes almost every year to lend his voice.

"I've missed one out of the 17 there have been--this is the 17th. It's just something I do--like I said, I believe in it," said Alther who spoke several years ago.

Organizers say that this is only the start of the recovery process for assault victims, but the rally should inspire activism and that can do a lot.

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