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Survivors of Sexual Abuse Share Stories at Take Back the Night - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Survivors of Sexual Abuse Share Stories at Take Back the Night

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In the United States, April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Colleges across the country are working to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus while teaching students how to help prevent it.

Monday night, a panel of University of Virginia students came together to share their stories of abuse, as well as their message of hope, as part of Take Back the Night, a weeklong series of events meant to serve as an outlet for victims of abuse.

Some incidents happened years ago and others were more recent - but all the stories had a similar message.

"We went back to his dorm room, me and my naive ways kind of expecting to hang out, but that was not exactly his intention,” said one panel member. She went on to say, "It's taken me a very long time and I still feel very uncomfortable every time I say the word ‘rape.’"

One by one, survivors shared their stories of sexual abuse. Some were stories of abuse on campus while others were of rape and sexual assault before coming to UVA. But all gave a sign of hope.

"I'm about to graduate and I'm doing much better than I ever thought I would be at this point,” said another panel member.

The panel was part of Take Back the Night - a week long series of events meant to serve as an outlet for victims of abuse.

Event organizer Annie Forest says Take Back the Night is about giving survivors a voice.

“It's important to give power back to the survivors. It's important to give them a voice because it's a subject that is typically kept silent,” Forest said.

Organizers say they want people to know that this is happening around them. They say they want to get the numbers out, that one in four women will be sexually assaulted in college.

"Just getting the word out is the biggest step,” Forest said.

As for the survivors, they want to share their stories to help others cope.

"It's worth hanging on through even the darkest moments to be able to feel again at some point,” a panel member said.

Monday night was just the start of the Take Back the Night event. It will wrap up on Thursday with the annual rally and march.

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