BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Women, men, and children who deplore the act of sexual assault walked 2k on Saturday, April 22nd at Ottawa Park. Their purpose was to bring more awareness to the vile act, as well as encourage more people to speak out against it. Sponsored by Releasing Abuse to Prompt Empowerment, RAPE, the event is in its seventh year, and had the theme, “Engaging New Voices.”
RAPE was formed by Doreann Alexander, a survivor of sexual assault. She told The Toledo Journal the reason they started off walking 2k was, at the time, someone was being assaulted every two minutes. Currently, she said, sexual assault occurs every one minute and 38 seconds.
“The organization and the walk all came about because a lot of people don’t talk about rape, or sexual assault,” she said. “In fact, a lot of people don’t know they’ve been raped or sexually assaulted. The victim will tell him or herself, ‘rape or sexual assault is when you’ve been abused or hit.’ But anytime you’ve been violated, such as fondling or being touched inappropriately, you’ve experienced sexual assault,” Ms. Alexander said.
Ms. Alexander wants the take home message for those walking, as well as the community, is to “Stop being silent. People, including children, need to feel safe to talk to someone about it,” she said.
All segments of society, including churches, fraternities, and sororities, and parents, need to speak up, and no longer be silent, she said.
“There’s healing after rape/sexual assault. It’s not the end,” Ms. Alexander said.
Sheena Barnes, community activist, attended the walk. She said that some people think the current culture has contributed to the rise of rape/sexual assault, when in fact, the culture has exposed it.
“The current culture hasn’t influenced the rise in sexual assault; it has undressed what’s been going on the dark for so long. The culture has pulled back the veil of what so many people refused to see,” she said.
After the walk, free food was provided, as well as a guest speaker talked about the topic. In addition, there was a balloon release which symbolized victims/survivors letting go of the shame, grief, and other emotions associated with rape/sexual assault.
Ms. Alexander wants the community to know that her organization provides free counseling from a licensed counselor. RAPE will be conducting workshops on the topic, all of which are free.
For more information, or to seek free services from the organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 419-460.5994.