Community gathers to honor survivors of gendered violence

Julie Cooper, News Contributor

On November 24, members of the Oregon State community gathered together in the cold evening air for a candlelight vigil and community speak out to honor those affected by gendered violence.

Hannah Glaser and Natalie Morris, peer facilitators at the Women’s Center, planned and coordinated the vigil, collaborating with representatives from the Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center, the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, and the Pride Center.

The event was in part a celebration of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

After crowd members passed their flame from candle to candle, a series of speeches began to start off the event.

Judy Neighbours, assistant director of SARC, spoke about the newly created advocacy center and its services to survivors of violence, and her hopes for the future of the OSU community.

“At the advocacy center, and I hope throughout this community, what we really want more than anything else is to create a community of care,” said Neighbours.

Neighbours summarized her speech with a call to action for those attending the vigil.

“What each of us tonight can do, is that we can give the choices back to the survivors that we know,” said Neighbours. “Don’t make the decisions for them, don’t tell them what you think is best for them, but instead listen to them and let them tell you what they believe would help at that point in time.”

Jessica Perez, a peer facilitator from the Pride Center, spoke about the ways in which gendered violence and intimate partner violence impact the LGBTQ+ community. Perez said that the highest rates of intimate partner violence are seen in LGBTQ+ youth, people of color, gay men, and transgender women.

At the conclusion of the speeches, attendees bowed their heads, taking a long moment of silence while candles flickered in the crowd.

The microphone was then opened up to those in attendance who wished to speak out, and members of the crowd stepped forward one by one.

Multiple speakers shared their personal experiences with emotional abuse and manipulation within relationships, and said that they were unable to recognize these as forms of control and abuse until they were no longer in the relationship.

“A lot of my life has been touched by gendered violence, and it’s been something that has been very formative for who I am as a person. But something that I’ve always struggled with reminding myself is that what happens to you does not define who you are,” said one speaker.

Many attendees shared messages of hope, reflecting on how simply talking about issues of gendered violence can make a difference. Many also provided words of support for survivors of domestic violence who continue to live with their truths.

“Your reality is not up for debate,” said one speaker.

Lucy Daumen, Volunteer Coordinator from CARDV, was present at the event to connect survivors and allies with resources. Daumen was optimistic about the vigil’s ability to bring together those who often may not have safe spaces to discuss their experiences.

“The impact of gendered violence can be very silencing and isolating, so I think that having any sort of awareness events where people can know that they’re not alone is really important,” Daumen said.