Across the US, someone becomes a victim of sexual assault every 93 seconds.

 That’s 1 minute and 33 seconds. Your favorite song is probably longer than that.

The students of Gender Studies 450 want to change this statistic.

On Nov. 13, students marched in solidarity with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. 

The march, organized by the students of Gender Studies 450, also included a resource fair and rally.

“It’s kind of a taboo topic,” says sophomore Sadie Williams, “but it’s more important than ever to talk about it.”

Williams explains that she experienced domestic violence growing up, but found it difficult to talk about. “I struggled to find someone who understood my experience. I was ashamed and blamed myself.”

Fortunately, the march provided an opportunity for survivors to tell their stories. 

“It made me realize that sexual violence is way too common in our society,” says junior Ta’miah Jeffers, “it’s really sad and it’s really wrong.”

The annual Take Back the Night march is designed to help those struggling to find their voice to speak up and say ‘no more’ to sexual and domestic violence.

 The night concluded with a symbolic name burning. This empowering ritual gave survivors the opportunity to take back their life, voice and happiness.

“I’m burning the ‘it’s ok’ that so many people told me,” says freshman Brooklynn Thompson, “because it’s not ok, it’s not normal and I refuse to keep blaming myself.” 

Other participants had a similar message.

“I’m burning my shame,” says junior Daniella Lopez, “I want to share my story, not hide it.” Lopez explains that it took many years to come to this resolution. 

“Because the perpetrator was so close to me, lots of people didn’t believe me or said I just wanted attention. To all other survivors, I want to say don’t be ashamed of yourself, it’s never your fault.”

ISU has taken many steps to stop sexual violence on campus, including mandatory prevention training. 

Yet, sexual and domestic violence still exist on campus. The students of Gender Studies 450 hope that the annual march will help change this. By providing a safe, accepting environment for survivors to tell their stories, the march is on its way to accomplishing this goal.

“Maybe we’ll never completely stop sexual violence, but we are bringing awareness to an issue that lots of people would prefer not to talk about,” says senior Lexi Beckoner, “change happens one small step at a time, and we are the foundation of that change.

The students of Gender Studies 450 remind all students that there are resources available to survivors of sexual or domestic violence. The student counseling center is located on the 2nd floor of Gilum Hall, and costs only $60 a semester for students. Students can receive professional help to deal with violence, as well as find a community of other survivors.