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SAPA hosts 2nd annual Solidarity


Central Michigan University students listen to performances by peers during the Solidarity event hosted by Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates on Nov. 4 in the Bovee University Center Rotunda.

Solidarity means unity, especially among individuals with a common interest, goal or even those in similar situations.

Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates hosted the second annual Solidarity event on Wednesday Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in the UC Rotunda.

The event was a night of unity and expression in support of all individuals affected by sexual aggression. This includes survivors, victims, witnesses and supports of survivors.

One in every four women experience sexual assault. It does not discriminate by race, gender, ethnicity, social status, or age. One in sixteen men experience a form of sexual aggression, as well.

The night was split into two parts, first being performances by Abstract Generation, Creative Writing student Kimberly Priest, and various students. The second half is called a "Speak Out," where anyone who feels comfortable can share their stories.

Priest performed a series of poems that she plans to include in her books. She is currently taking time off from her studies but is continuing again January with her masters in Creative Writing. 

She hopes to work in New Hampshire for a program dealing with sexual assault, domestic violence and feminist issues.

"I am opening up my story to the public," Priest said. "There needs to be a dialogue, people need to start talking about sexual assault and domestic violence."

Priest shared her story of being sexually assaulted and being in a domestic violence marriage for fifteen years. Now being 38 years old, she is still coping and learning about what it means to be assaulted and how there is a way to regain power in her life. She read around six of her personal poems, as well as discussed how some things are still triggering for her in everyday life.

Other performances included a few students singing, reading traditional and slam poetry. These performances also included background on their survivor stories and some uplifting words for other victims.

During the Speak Out portion of the night, survivors were encouraged to share with the crowd and reminded that this was a safe place. SAPA members were around the room and near the doors in case students needed someone to talk to regarding the heavy subject matter.

Several survivors shared there stories related to sexual assault, sexual aggression, stalking, and spoke of their offenders. Some stories highlighted the fact that the sexual offenders were never found in violation of the universities policies and are still walking around campus to this day. 

Some stories included dealing with authorities, police officers, family members and friends. The survivors spoke of how there is power in coming forward and sharing what happened because it is a way to work through the pain. 

Solidarity also included a moment of silence for victims of sexual assault and concluded with the "Starfish Story" reminding everyone that they can make a difference and it all starts with one person.

"We are all part of the change and we will continue to stand in solidarity with survivors," SAPA members said as the ending statement to the night.