Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO Rising gathers community of support

Monday, May 6, 2019

Redhawks Rising brought survivors and supporters together for SEMO Rising: Survivor Speak Out, an open mic event held April 25 at the West Gym at the Student Recreation Center.

There was a discussion on the topics of domestic abuse, sexual assault, kidnapping and stalking, as well as a candlelight vigil.

Director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program Donna St. Sauver introduced the event, explaining students could feel free to share as much of their stories as they felt comfortable.

“Survivors get tired of being survivors,” St. Sauver said.

“I’m going to tell this story again. But this time, I’ll add more to it,” one speaker who wishes to remain anonymous commented before sharing her experience for the second year in a row. She expressed she felt more comfortable sharing additional details she previously omitted.

Southeast senior and Redhawks Rising treasurer Kegan Summers spoke at the event this year for the first time.

As an advocate and survivor, Summers believes it is important to emphasize interpersonal violence can impact anyone, regardless of gender.

“Being a male and sharing my story is so important. I want to share that this happens to everyone in the community,” Summers said.

After survivors were given time to share their stories, a candlelight vigil was held to remember those who had lost their lives to interpersonal violence.

The night ended with a One Billion Rising: Break the Chain dance. Attendees were invited to join a dance routine coordinated to a song that encourages dancers to “break the chain” of domestic abuse. St. Sauver said the dance empowers both survivors and supporters.

“This song says to break the chain of violence. In order to do that, we need to talk about it. For decades — probably centuries — this was swept under the rug,” St. Sauver said. “But as we’re busting open gender roles, we’re breaking the silence on interpersonal violence.”

This was the final in a series of Sexual Assault Awareness Month events hosted by Redhawks Rising and the Campus Violence Prevention Program.