Community rallies against sexual assault

Katrena Jordan, sophomore from Lenzburg, Illinois, shared her story at Take Back the Night of overcoming sexual abuse in her childhood. Photo by Kelli O'Toole/TheNews

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer

Katrena Jordan, sophomore  from Lenzburg, Illinois, is a sexual assault survivor.

She said she was first assaulted when she was six years old, and she said her family did not believe her – they thought she was only seeking attention. For that reason, she said she waited until she was 16 to tell anyone else what she had been through.

Tuesday’s Take Back the Night rally spread awareness of sexual assault by sharing stories from survivors like Jordan and gave action steps for ending sexual violence through intervention.

“It’s an opportunity for survivors to share their stories and encourages students to support survivors and to be active bystanders,” said Abigail Cox, coordinator of Murray State’s Women’s Center.

Cox said she believes people will be more likely to reach out and ask for help if people collectively respond to the issue of sexual assault and that is why it is so important to raise awareness.

Jordan was the first student of the evening to share her story of overcoming sexual violence.

“I felt as if it was my fault,” Jordan said.

Although it has taken time, Jordan said she has come to realize she is not to blame and she does not let what happened to her define who she is.

“You have to speak up and fight for yourself because no one else can fight for you,” Jordan said.

Travis Ralls, Greenville College student from St. Louis, and a sexual abuse survivor, also shared his story.

Ralls said about 11 percent of all students on college campuses experience rape and sexual abuse.

He said he was sexually assaulted by a college intern working in the church he went to when he was 11 and 12 years old. He didn’t tell anyone about his experience until he was a senior in high school.

By reporting what happened, Ralls learned his abuser victimized multiple children.

Not only did Ralls bring justice to himself, but to others, too.

Ralls, like Jordan, said he had to realize he had no control over the situation and was not to blame.

“Although what happened to me is part of me, it doesn’t define me,” Ralls said.

Michael Mann, senior from Springfield, Kentucky, said it is the students’ responsibility to end sexual violence at Murray State.

“It is our responsibility to stop sexual assault,” Mann said. “Not only because it is the right thing to do, but because this is our campus.”

President Bob Davies call to action followed the theme of the night by challenging people to take a stand and assist those who need it.

As Racers, Davies said intervention is our responsibility.

After the rally, there was a resource fair for students to see where they can seek help if it is ever needed.

Take the pledge to end sexual assault at ItsOnUs.org.