Five Red Deer College students are encouraging people to stand up to sexual violence and Take Back the Night on Thursday.
The Red Deer Unite! Take Back the Night event at City Hall Park will include speakers and a march to Rotary Park where there will be snacks and an opportunity for questions and further discussion.
Shentel Kerr, one of the RDC students, said they wanted to work with the community on victim blaming as part of a research project for one of their classes. The event is a proactive way to address the issue by identifying myths and misconceptions about sexual violence.
“This is a structural issue that goes beyond individuals and the best way to address it and have people feel supported is to have a community-based solution and have everyone come together,” Kerr said on Monday.
“It’s about bringing awareness that it’s not the victim’s fault and we need to be careful in the way that we approach people who have experienced sexual assault so that we aren’t re-traumatizing and re-victimizing them.”
She said the more awareness and support, the more victims will come forward, and the rate of rape will fall. Right now one in four women will experience rape.
“That doesn’t even really consider the dark figure of crime. Most of them are unreported so that number could potentially be even bigger.”
She said men can be rape victims too so both women and men are encouraged to attend Take Back the Night.
The event runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. with speakers who will provide facts and statistics. Some survivors may also be telling their stories. A candle light vigil and moment of silence will be held at Rotary Park.
Kerr said the forecast is -11C for Thursday night so people are encouraged to dress warm. The walk will take about 30 minutes. Hot dogs and warm beverages will be provided at Rotary Park where there will be a fire lit.
People will be invited to sign or make a hand print on a mural entitled — These hands are NOT for hurting — to commemorate those who have faced any form of sexual violence. Gloves will be available for making the painted hand prints. The mural will be given to Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.
Participants are asked to wear purple and bring a candle or lantern for the march.
Other RDC student organizers include Meagan Gaalaas, Skylar Remple, Jade Fleury and Heidi Coltman.
For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/RedDeerUniteTBTN/?pnref=lhc