WIU hosts annual rally to raise awareness of sexual violence

By KENNEDY WILLIAMS, NEWS3 Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois – An annual event was held at Western Illinois University to call attention to sexual violence. 

The Take Back The Night Rally was held on April 15. The event began outside of Sherman Hall with a resource fair and a presentation. Students marched to Chandler Park. 

“It’s a worldwide organization that just helps to spread awareness and fight against sexual violence, including sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, any type of violence within relationships,” WIU Multicultural Center graduate assistant Trameka Pope said.

The goal of the event is to let survivors know that they have support. 

“Just know that you are never alone and everyone here is supporting you,” one participant said.

“I know you never asked for this but keep trying and keep going,” another participant said. 

One survivor said she was abused at a young age but now has the courage to tell her story. 

“I was, unfortunately, abused by a relative when I was in first grade, and I don’t know why it happened, but it wasn’t until high school that I realized what happened and it wasn’t okay,” a survivor who wanted to remain anonymous, said. “I actually hated myself and blamed myself.” 

She decided it was important to come out to her parents. 

“Luckily, they believed me and were really supportive of me.”

However, she understands why people keep silent. 

“They don’t know how other people will react or if they wouldn’t believe you.” 

Marco Narvaez is a student Emergency Medical Technician, and he shared a story from a patient he was called to help on the job as a student EMT.

“He drove to a secluded place a short drive away from my house and raped me,” Narvaez said of the patient. “He followed me back to my bedroom instead and shoved me down on my bed. He was attempting to rape me again.”

He knows first-hand the trauma victims of sexual violence face. 

“Many times these events have a large emotional toll on these people,” Narvaez said, looking down and gathering his words. 

Narvaez is one of many people that attended the event. He believes courage and support can help survivors turn their pain into peace.

 “Acknowledge the pain,” Narvaez said.

This was the 31st year for the event. The theme for this year was “Shed light, Join the fight.”