Students held a candlelight vigil on the back patio behind the Frank G. Pogue Student Center on Thursday, Sept. 17 to raise awareness for sexual violence. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) works to prevent sexual violence.
RAINN Day, started through the organization, is held the third Thursday in September to educate students about sexual violence, especially acts that occur on college campuses. For approximately six years, the candlelight vigil has been Edinboro University’s way of recognizing RAINN day.
“It’s good to raise awareness throughout the community so people are informed of the facts,” Eric Bennett, president of the Wellness Peer Educators, said. “This stuff actually does happen.”
Not only is the vigil to raise awareness and to keep such things from occurring, it is also done to honor the victims. While this year no victims shared their poems or stories, students in past years have done so.
“It’s definitely opened my eyes because I never really knew how often rape and sexual violence of any kind happened,” Amanda Ferguson, graduate assistant at the Ghering Health and Wellness Center, said.
Just as the wax remains on the hands of those at the vigil after the candle has been put out, the effects of sexual violence last long after the act takes place. “Talk about symbolic,” Drew Patrick, who attended the event, said. “Even though the issue is supposedly gone, the scars remain. Then, you can work over time to help remove those scars.”
According to RAINN’s website, there are about 298,000 victims of sexual assault every year. Only 35 percent of sexual assaults are reported to police, and 98 percent of rapists won’t spend as much as a day in jail.
“We want our students to realize that it’s happening and then to find the ways to help prevent it,” Ferguson said. “Whether it’s by stepping in when they see a situation happening or just by explaining... how people can be aware of what’s going on.”
If anyone is a victim of sexual violence, they can visit the Ghering Health and Wellness Center and speak with someone there. Additionally, each student has five free visits with a therapist. If people know that someone else has been a victim, they can be supportive and encourage the victim to report the incident.
“They should definitely help the victim; try to report it, if the victim is willing,” Ferguson said. “It’s all about the victim. You want to help them as much as possible; try to get them resources that will help them, but, basically, it’s all about helping them.”
There will also be a Domestic Violence Walk held on Oct. 14.
Tracy Geibel is the campus life editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.