Quinnipiac takes stand against domestic violence

By on April 15, 2009

For a topic so serious in nature, Quinnipiac University rallied together to put on a positively embracing night.

Quinnipiac held its second annual Take Back the Night event April 8 in Alumni Hall. The event was hosted by WAVE and co-sponsored by SHADES, SGA and RHC.

Accordingto TakeBackTheNight.org, the event has “inspired both women and men to confront a myriad of social ills, including rape, sexual violence, domestic violence, violence against children and violence against women. The unifying theme throughout these diverse topics is the assertion that all human beings have the right to be free from violence, the right to be heard and the right to reclaim those rights if they are violated.”

A series of speeches were made regarding the controversial topics.

Junior Kailey Maher spoke about her friend who had recently been in the news for being abducted, beaten, raped and left to die in Hamden. The 25-year-old waitress at Temple Grill was reported as “the worst case of sexual assault” that Yale-New Haven Hospital has ever encountered.

Donations were taken at the back of Alumni for the 25-year-old waitress who left her family with a stack of medical bills and no medical insurance.

Lorri K. Sudderth, Ph.D., and professor here at Quinnipiac, has completed recent research on campus regarding this issue and discussed it with the audience.

“It takes courage to talk about sexual violence,” Sudderth said. “Most rapes on campus are underreported. Three incidents have been reported at Quinnipiac in the last three years. Yet within my research I found out this was not the case. I was able to talk with classes and hand out surveys.”

Out of 549 completed surveys, 333 were female. From that number, 165 reported they were survivors of at least one type of physical or sexual violence.

Within her research she found that 71.5 percent of victims will talk to a friend and that seniors are 20 times more likely to disclose their situations to campus security than any other year.

The speakers made several recommendations to the Quinnipiac community that included an increase in rape awareness outside of the freshman orientation. They suggested students trained in these rape/violence classes should be able to volunteer their time on campus wherever needed. Visiting a Web site where people can get help and information was another recommendation. They said Quinnipiac could also benefit from following the trends of other colleges that employ a sexual response team.

“We can deal with this as a community and not by ourselves,” Sudderth said as she ended her talk.

Guest speaker Donna Palomba, founder of the Jane Doe No More Foundation told her story of being attacked in the middle of the night in her house by someone she knew. Her biggest struggle was that the police officers investigating her case did not believe her.

“At the most vulnerable time of my healing I was called down by the police where they accused me of lying,” Palomba said.

It took Palomba seven years to finally get to trial and convict the police officers of negligence. It also took 11 years to take her assailant to court.

“We never made it to trial,” Palomba said. “He tried to drag a 17-year-old track star into his car with him. Her screams were loud enough for her coaches to hear and help her. In the back of the van was a noose, a shovel and assorted photos of women he was stalking.”

She stands today in front of many crowds and gives speeches. Through her foundation with many volunteers, she ensures proper treatment will be executed with rape and physically assaulted victims.

“Every victim should have the right to see their assailant serve justice,” Palomba said.

There was time set aside for victims, friends of victims or students who wanted to say some words about sexual and physical abuse. The students’ shared stories will remain confidential.

“I attended last year’s TBTN and it is always sad and shocking to hear firsthand accounts,” sophomore attendee Samira Moosavi said. “Those victims who do speak up have a lot of courage and I think if you have had a traumatic experience in the past then it’s a great way to get it off your chest.”

The night ended with a candlelight vigil and a silent walk around campus.

“I believe we learn from our greatest challenges,” Palomba said. “We can take back the night and look forward to when sexual violence will be no more.”

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