April 17, 2014
Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Virginia on Thursday evening to help end violence against women and other groups at the annual The Take Back the Night rally, march and vigil.
Take Back the Night is an international foundation that aims to create safe communities and respectful relationships.
The organization notes that at least one in three women worldwide has been beaten, raped or abused.
The event brought out the families of two Virginia girls who have been victims of violence.
Alexis Murphy's aunt and great-aunt participated in the ceremony. The Nelson County teenager is still missing after she was last seen at a Lovingston gas station on August 3, 2013.
In two weeks, Randy Taylor, who has been charged with murder in the case, will go on trial.
Morgan Harrington's mother was also on grounds for the rally. Harrington's body was found on an Albemarle County farm in 2010. Nobody has been charged with the then 20-year-old's death.
Thursday's ceremony began at Nameless Field with several speakers and performances by UVa. musical groups.
The crowd then carried its message across grounds, through The Lawn and to The Amphitheater.
Participants held signs that read, "shatter the silence, stop the violence" and chanted, "Charlottesville unite, take back the night."
Once at The Amphitheater, survivors spread their stories by candlelight.
"There's a lot of stigma and shame around the issue, and I think a lot of people are scared to come talk about it because reality and dealing with it is so traumatizing," said Haley Swartz, public relations chair for UVa. Take Back the Night. "We want to bring light to it so people no longer have to suffer in silence."
Swartz says this year they have tried to focus more on healthy sexual attitudes and consent. She says the idea is that opening the conversation can be a starting point in preventing violence.
The week-long Take Back the Night events will wrap up Friday with a Day of Healing and Wellness.
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