Survivors of sexual assault tell their stories at Sac State Take Back the Night

Sac+State+students+and+local+advocates+gather+on+the+Residence+Halls+Lawn+to+hear+speeches+regarding+the+prevalence+of+sexual+assault+Thursday%2C+April+18%2C+2019.+This+is+Sac+State%27s+eighteenth+annual+Take+Back+the+Night+event%2C+honoring+survivors+and+protesting+sexual+violence.
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Survivors of sexual assault tell their stories at Sac State Take Back the Night

Sac State students and local advocates gather on the Residence Halls Lawn to hear speeches regarding the prevalence of sexual assault Thursday, April 18, 2019. This is Sac State's eighteenth annual Take Back the Night event, honoring survivors and protesting sexual violence.

Sac State students and local advocates gather on the Residence Halls Lawn to hear speeches regarding the prevalence of sexual assault Thursday, April 18, 2019. This is Sac State's eighteenth annual Take Back the Night event, honoring survivors and protesting sexual violence.

Camille Escovedo - The State Hornet

Sac State students and local advocates gather on the Residence Halls Lawn to hear speeches regarding the prevalence of sexual assault Thursday, April 18, 2019. This is Sac State's eighteenth annual Take Back the Night event, honoring survivors and protesting sexual violence.

Camille Escovedo - The State Hornet

Camille Escovedo - The State Hornet

Sac State students and local advocates gather on the Residence Halls Lawn to hear speeches regarding the prevalence of sexual assault Thursday, April 18, 2019. This is Sac State's eighteenth annual Take Back the Night event, honoring survivors and protesting sexual violence.

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Sacramento State’s Take Back the Night event drew students and local advocates to campus to honor sexual assault survivors and demonstrate against sexual, domestic and relationship violence.

Sac State Student Health and Counseling Services organized the event, according to the Facebook event page.

Sac State senior Bajha Jordan works as the college’s healthy relationships student manager,  overseeing Peer Health Educator interns.

“Take Back the Night is [for] awareness for sexual violence and to promote consent,” Jordan said. “April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”

Jordan said the university’s event was inspired by the broader Take Back the Night movement. 2019 is the eighteenth year Sac State hosted the event, Jordan said.

Sac State’s Take Back the Night began with a resource fair of campus and local organizations, such as the Gender Health Center, Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE), Sac State’s Active Minds group, and Sac State’s Women’s Resource Center and PRIDE Center.

PRIDE Center coordinator Melissa Muganzo said it was important for the center to table at the event to support students with many different life experiences.

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The night progressed into a rally, where individuals delivered speeches and spoken word performances about the prevalence of sexual assault, victim-blaming, misconceptions about assault and affirming survivors’ experiences.

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Sac State senior Priyanka Chahal said it felt good to name her experience with others through the spoken word piece she delivered about surviving sexual assault.

“I didn’t share with people for a long time because of the stigma of people saying, ‘Oh, I don’t believe you,’ or this or that,” Chahal said. “I had a really bad experience with telling people, especially close my close friends.”

Chahal, who directed the empowerment play A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer at Sac State in February, said performing her poetry in the past has helped her feel more comfortable telling her friends what she went through.

“I felt a big part of myself coming back to me,” she said.

Sac State President Robert Nelsen made an appearance at the event to address the impact of sexual violence. He paused several times, in tears, while giving his speech.

“Let’s be number one in stopping sexual violence. Let’s be number one in supporting each other,” Nelsen said. “Let’s be number one in not just surviving, but, as I said in changing, in changing this world, let’s educate each other, let’s support each other – and yes, in the most true sense, let’s love each other.”

Sac State student Kimberly Clark said she appreciated the president’s words.

“I like that he is incredibly supportive of the Sac State campus and [that] he is very involved,” Clark said.

Organizers then started what they called a unity march, advancing to the Library Quad and back between Brighton and Humbolt Halls toward the Residence Halls again, where the event concluded with a final speech.

Tyana Molinaro, a Sac State freshman, said she attended as an ally to survivors.

“I’m not a survivor of sexual assault, but my mother was raped her first year of college, and that’s how I was conceived,” Molinaro said. “I’m here in honor of her and her survival of sexual assault.”

Matthew Espinoza, a Sac State student and fraternity member, said that the survivors’ testimonies stood out to him.

“It’s needed, any movement for positivity is good,” Espinoza said. “Hard to hear, but they are obviously brave.”

Sac State freshman McKayla Darrow shared her journey for justice as a former victim of childhood sexual assault by a family friend.  

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“Didn’t say anything for a year, and then didn’t report it until four years later,” Darrow said. “So, this is kind of a celebration walk for me because tomorrow, the arrest warrant’s being finalized, and next week, he’s being arrested.”

Darrow’s smile grew, and she teared up slightly.

“It’s more a happy thing for me today because my journey’s almost over,” Darrow said. “I mean, not completely over, but I finally get to see justice.”

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