A UF organization is reopening the channels for conversation on the prominent issue of sexual violence.
The Sexual Trauma/Interpersonal Violence Education’s annual event, Take Back the Night, will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday on Norman field, and Rita Lawrence, the interpersonal violence prevention coordinator for GatorWell, said she expects at least 500 people to attend.
“There’s a saying that ‘no one has to do everything to prevent sexual violence, but everyone has to do something,’” Lawrence said.
Lawrence, STRIVE’s staff adviser and Take Back the Night’s planning committee chairwoman, said that the event has been held internationally for more than 35 years. However, it’s never been very large at UF.
Lawrence said there were about 100 people last year, but this year she expects more, as STRIVE has gained more recognition.
“In the time since (last year), there’s been so much focus in the media nationally on campus sexual assault,” Lawrence said. “This year I knew I wanted to make it bigger and to have more of an impact.”
This year’s event will feature a 2-mile march around campus, local performances and information on sexual assault prevention and aid. There will be two keynote speakers who have survived sexual violence, as well as a chance for others to share their stories.
Participants are encouraged to bring posters, but there will be an opportunity to make some before the march.
Cassandre Gaspard, a volunteer peer educator, said STRIVE’s mission to make UF free of interpersonal violence through education, empowerment and inspiration can be seen during Take Back the Night.
The UF criminology and law sophomore said this event will educate more UF students on rape culture in hopes of increasing sensitivity for the topic.
“I don’t think enough students are aware of the prominence of sexual violence and how victims are affected on a day-by-day basis,” Gaspard, 20, said. “This event gives the chance for victims to have a voice in the public.”
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 3/31/2015 under the headline “STRIVE holds march against interpersonal, sexual violence”]