In honor of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, the Shippensburg University Women’s Center hosted a ceremony to honor victims via Zoom on Apr. 28.
Arielle Catron, SU Women’s Center director, hosted the virtual “Take Back the Night” event. She was looking forward to marching alongside her colleagues for the annual event but due to quarantine, her only option was a video call meeting.
“Obviously, we can’t be together in person this year but I’m really glad we were able to come together in this format and still [be] a community, connect and learn about the services that are available to us,” Catron said.
Catron addressed how difficult everything has been and how stressors from the coronavirus can motivate aggressive situations. She showed statistics of rising domestic abuse during quarantine as many victims are unable to escape to a safe haven.
“This is happening across the country,” said Catron. “People are reaching out for help. Because people are confined to their living area, they are not able to access the usual places where they are able to feel safe.”
Representatives from domestic violence organizations such as Women In Need Inc., Chambersburg, and Young Women’s Christian Association Carlisle (YWCA) provided resources and information during the Zoom meeting.
Gwen Stahlnecker, YWCA Carlisle representative, said her organization is continuing to provide counselling over the phone and on Zoom.
Marcus Foster, SU Equity, Inclusion and Compliance officer, assured students the office is more than willing to help during this time of need.
“Students still have rights to access the services that the office provides,” Foster said. “If you have experienced any kind of sexual misconduct or dating violence, you have the right to report [it].”
In previous years, women from the Shippensburg community would march together on campus to honor those who survived sexual assault. However, this year Catron played a video of the history of “Take Back The Night” as an alternative.
United Campus Ministry campus minister the Rev. Jan Bye closed the event by encouraging attendees to take advantage of the resources available during this unusual time. She also lit a candle as a tribute to sexual assault victims.
“I know we keep hearing about social distancing, and I’m really starting to hate those words because I don’t think they’re accurate,” Bye said. “We have physical distancing but we need social contact more than ever since we are isolated.”
Domestic violence organizations are working closely with the SU Women’s Center to ensure students are safe during quarantine, according to Carton.
Students seeking more information, resources or help in regard to any kind of abuse should contact YWCA Carlisle Sexual Assault Rape Crisis Center hotline at 717) 258-4324. They can also reach out to the SU Office of Equity, Inclusion and Compliance at (717) 477-1161. Alternatively, they can call the Women In Need hotline at (717) 264-4444.