Story by Omar Reyes/Staff writer/@Salar0895
“Don’t tell me how to dress; Tell them not to rape,” read one of the many signs carried by people marching down Pacific Coast Highway as part of the Take Back the Night Vigil and March at the PCC on Tuesday, April 19.
“I really enjoyed the event. It taught me ways on how to be supportive and I was able to hear other people’s stories and learn that sexual assault can mean different things, not just what people would normally think,” said Marisela Reyes, 23, a human services major.
About 50 people attended the event, which began at 6 p.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m. The event was one of many in connection with Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The event was planned by the Office of Student Affairs and student support services, said student-conduct specialist Sylvia Garcia. She said, “This event was designated to bring awareness of sexual violence, not only on campus or the community, but any type of violence that people encounter. We want to give people the skills and tools to be able to handle or address those situations and give them the resources.”
The event included guest speaker and professor of human services Annahita Mahdavi. She gave the audience statistics about rape and sexual assault including the negative effects of rape victim-blaming and what people can do to protect themselves from being sexually assaulted.
Afterward, the audience got into a large group, holding signs with messages protesting against sexual assault as they marched and chanted around PCC, including alongside Pacific Coast Highway and Orange Avenue.
After the march, participants returned to their meeting spot where they were given a chance to share their personal stories on sexual assault.
Mahdavi said she was glad she was invited to speak and encourages people to speak up about sexual assault. “I think that everyone should have a choice to speak up as sexual assault is one of the most traumatic experience that can happen with such short-term and long-term harmful effects on the psyche of a human being”
Mahdavi said, “I’m really proud of everyone who spoke today. Crises such as sexual assault can result in someone becoming stronger. There is hope. There is help. I hope everyone starts asking for help.”