Take Back the Night

By Taylor Blasko

Last Thursday, March 30th, DelVal’s chapter of the American Association of University of Women (AAUW) hosted Take Back the Night on campus in Moumgis Auditorium. The event created a really inspiring atmosphere to get people out for the walk.

There were a lot of resources there including the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), GLOW, and the school health center counselors. Timothy Poirier opened up the night by discussing policies on campus about reporting sexual assault. He passed out helpful informational handouts to assist in that process. He also talked about the difference between faculty and staff that could listen if you need to tell them something and keep it private, versus faculty and staff that are obligated to report what you tell them, but to still keep details confidential. He made clear, the easiest way to know the difference between the two is to ask. If something happens to you and you want to tell a professor or someone that works on campus, simply ask them if they will be obligated to report what you tell them or not, so that you can feel safe in talking to someone.

The honorary guest speaker of the night was Dr.Suzanne Stutman. She was introduced by none other than her own son and our resident history professor, Dr. Craig Stutman. He did a wonderful job introducing his mom and I was touched by the love and appreciation that I could feel between them. As soon as Dr. Craig Stutman handed the microphone over to his mom she went off about how great her son is. Seeing her loving and caring demeanor in action made her speech all that much more emotional for me.

She talked of her abuse as a child. She talked about hating herself because of it. And most importantly she talked of her feelings as if they were inevitable. She made it clear to us that as a kid she thought she deserved what she was getting. She talked of feeling like she didn’t deserve love. How she had to try to be ideal for others, instead of being ideal for herself.

Her speech was moving. I have no other words for it really. It left me speechless.

When she was done there was a silence that permeated throughout the room. On one level the very real feelings she shared are relatable, on some level. On another level entirely I could never even imagine going through what she did. Talking to her afterwards it was so clear what a generous and kind hearted person she is. Through her speech she made me feel all her feelings. All her feelings from her many years swept over me all at once and I’ll admit, by the end I was tired. But this woman who had just graciously shared her difficult story with us was all smiles. And that was what showed me the real meaning of resilience. That showed me the importance of being kind through and through. Sometimes people that could get a pass for being ugly come out as the most kind hearted people there are.

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