Story By Bryanna Weinstein
On Wednesday, a very important discussion about gender-based violence occurred at Middle Tennessee State University. Power of ONE partnered with June Anderson Center, MTSU School of Journalism & Strategic Media, Departments of Social Work, Communication Studies and Women & Gender Studies and others to bring this event to students.
Facilitators went around the auditorium, letting students openly discuss the culture around this violence and asking questions, such as why it can take so long for people to really speak out after experiences like this. Afterwards, students were shown fifteen minutes of footage about survivor stories in the media that have caused widespread debate and controversy.
With the ushering in of the #MeToo era, came more people brave enough to come forward and obtain justice for themselves and others. Men like Bill Cosby, Brock Turner, Aziz Ansari, Harvey Weinstein and now R. Kelly have been put in the spotlight by their victims. Attendees of the event made it clear that it is necessary to speak up in order to bring about change.
Kim Reynolds, a coordinator with the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, mentioned that cases like this take quite a while to go to court, especially in Tennessee. “It takes about ten months to a year for a case to go to court through the TBI,” she said.
One of the facilitators, Dr. Nikki Jones, reminded attendees that the movement should not only focus on the mainstream industry of Hollywood, but activists have to think about those close to us. “These are people we know, not some stranger hiding in a bush,” she added.
Students were able to participate in the discussion and give advice to fellow students who may not know how to handle an assault situation. This event gave students open space to air their thoughts about this heavy, tense topic amongst themselves.
“Pay more attention, every detail counts. Who cares if they don’t like you? You should still stand up,” one student said.
“You should be that person someone can come to, not one they run away with their problems,” another student replied.
Reynolds closed the night with an important point, “We need to remove resources for the perpetrators. We have to stop being afraid and give resources to those who really need them.”
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