It was difficult for me to get up there. I figured it was time for me to tell someone, Ariel Warrior, as she calls herself, found the courage to share her story at the second annual Ignite the Night, an event held to promote sexual abuse and domestic violence awareness.
The event, hosted by the Sam Houston State University Counseling Center on April 10, continued with back-to-back survivor stories read by victims, or friends of victims, sharing poems or personal experiences.
Only a select few of Ariels friends knew her story until last night.
After going to it last year I realized there are people out there going through similar things I did. What helped me share my story was knowing that I could be giving courage to people who are too scared. It is good for people to know theyre not alone, you can make it through it.
Ariel had the audience on their feet for a standing ovation after fighting past her tears, struggling just to make it through her heartbreaking story. Even though life dealt her a bad hand of cards, she had such a positive outlook on life, even ending with a joke, If you ever need someone to talk to call the counseling center we pay for it in our tuition.
Katelynn King shared the story of a close friend who was a victim of rape. King attended the first Ignite the night and said compared to last year, it was a lot better than the first one. A lot more people showed up, it was a really good turnout.
King thinks this event helps people speak up about being a victim to crime. If you dont know about sexual assault, it is good for you to hear other peoples stories and see how people really react towards it. It opens peoples eyes to how real this is, its not just something you see on CSI
To give the audience a break from the heartbreaking stories, SHSUs Police Department had patrol officer, Chanda Brown speak. Brown explained the correct actions to take if you are a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. She said if you are a victim you should call the police immediately.
She said if you have been sexually assaulted it is important that you do not shower, that way authorities can collect as much evidence as possible.
Alcohol and drug abuse coordinator, Eddie Gisemba, stressed how alcohol and drugs can completely change the way a person acts.
Alcohol and drugs decrease your inhibitions, Gisemba said, youre more prone to act out, thus increasing the likelihood of domestic violence, increasing the likelihood of sexual assault.
Its not about you, its not about them, its about us. Is a slogan Gisemba says he keeps close to him and shares with victims to help them grow strong through their healing process.
A skit, named domestic affairs, was performed by the group Act One about a young couple whose relationship suffered from domestic violence. Act Ones final message was that the key to a healthy relationship is communication, and before you can love anyone else, you must learn to love yourself.