Lehman College takes back the night

Students at Lehman College participated in Take back the night by listening to speeches by victims, a candlelight vigil and campus walk.
Photo courtesy of Lehman College

Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

One in four women and one in eight men is likely to experience violence during their life.

Sheena Young knows those numbers, from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network all too well.

Statistically, she says, she should either be dead or on drugs by now.

Young, 27, is a victim herself.

She was one of the speakers at Lehman College’s Take Back the Night event April 24 that included a resource fair, campus walk and candlelight vigil.

Young shared her story with a hundred students about the abuse she endured, starting when she was seven years old.

“My focus for the event was to speak on the process of healing and what that journey was like for me,” Young said later of her talk. “I also wanted to offer anecdotes and suggestions on what survivors can do to help heal themselves.”

Writing in a journal was something that helped to heal her, she said.

“Another thing that helped me, was sharing my story to those closest to me,” she said. “Each time it was like a great weight was lifted off of me. Any way you can get your pain out of you, sometimes it’s writing or talking, sometimes it’s a support group.”

Young also spoke to students about the statistics of domestic and sexual abuse.

“I don’t necessarily like statistics,” she said. “We’ve all heard them, but I don’t like them because they can either be spot on or not even close to correct.”

Statistically, Young noted, she should not be alive.

“I am a black woman from Chicago, raised in a cult, and was sexually assaulted by my stepfather, and the church knew about it,” she said. “Statistically, I should be dead or on drugs, but I’m not.”

Young encourages victims of abuse to live a full life of abundance, to not stop their healing process at surviving abuse.

“I would tell people to take their healing at their own pace,” Young said. “People say you should do this and you should do that, but sometimes you are just not ready to do what other people think you should. It’s not always the same for each person.”

Nicole Rosario, the event coordinator and a counselor at Lehman’s counseling center, said she was touched by the survivor stories, finding them both powerful and “real.”

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