Sigma Psi Zeta held their seventh annual “Take Back the Night” event in the Korman Quad May 10 to inform students about domestic violence.
Sigma Psi Zeta’s national philanthropy mission is to combat violence against women. Drexel’s chapter hosts several informational events throughout the year. “Take Back the Night” is their largest event.
The night started with Sigma Psi Zeta’s “Clothesline Project.” Students wrote encouraging messages for victims on T-shirts that were then displayed on a clothesline for the rest of the night. Some of the shirts said “All you need is love,” and “Raise your hand against violence.”
Katherine Lactaoen, a junior nursing major and event chair, introduced the speakers and the subject of domestic violence.
“One in four women will experience domestic violence in their life,” Lactaoen said.
Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury in women aged 15-44, ranking above car accidents, muggings and rapes. One woman is beaten by her domestic partner every 15 seconds in the United States.
Libby Lambert, a sophomore nursing major, was first to speak. Lambert was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.
“This does relate to each of you because I am one of you. I am a part of the Drexel family,” Lambert said.
Lambert was sexually abused by her father when she was a child. She only first spoke out about it when she was a freshman in high school.
According to Lambert, 60 percent of rapes go unreported in the United States. Her father was just recently convicted of multiple counts of domestic abuse.
“It does get easier,” she said.
Officer Melody Latare of the Drexel Police Department spoke next, discussing ways students could deter domestic violence. She also called attention to Drexel’s Rape Aggression Defense class for women.
The Rape Aggression Defense class, which teaches women verbal and physical self defense, is taught by Drexel Police officers. According to Latare, the department is working on getting a self-defense class for men as well.
Latare urged audience members to call 911 or 215-895-2222 – the Drexel Public Safety hotline – if they see anything they think may be abuse. She also encouraged students to talk to people in their lives that they think may be getting abused.
After a break to collect donations and sell raffle tickets, William Spratley, father of a domestic violence case, told his daughter’s story.
Spratley’s only daughter, Ameya, was 27 years old and the mother of three children when she was found in her closet stabbed in the chest. She was allegedly killed by her abusive husband in front of their newborn son. Spratley was there when Ameya was found and was described as holding his daughter, dead in his arms.
“My daughter will always and forever be my best friend,” he said.
Spratley said he speaks out against domestic violence because his daughter couldn’t. He urged the students to speak out if they know anything or if they notice signs that their loved ones might be a victim of domestic abuse.
“I never thought I would be speaking about domestic violence,” Spratley said through tears.
Spratley didn’t once use the perpetrator’s name, instead referring to him as “the abuser.” Ameya’s family has a court date scheduled for November to see what will become of her accused murderer.
“Domestic violence has no face, no color, no race, no gender,” Spratley said.
Criminal justice instructor Cyndi Rickards spoke next. Rickards, who also teaches courses in domestic violence, was a children’s social worker prior to teaching.
According to Rickards, one in four women is a victim, but that doesn’t mean one in four men is a perpetrator.
She added that three in 10 million children witness domestic violence, and medical expenses for domestic abuse victims total over $5.8 billion per year.
“This is a national epidemic,” Rikards said.
The night ended with a candlelight vigil dedicated to all the victims around the world.
The sisters of Sigma Psi Zeta were pleased with the success of the event. Amanda Xu, Jinny Lu, Colleen Yen, Michelle Cheung, Tiffany Chen, Ada Zheng, Rannica Aing and Karmen Ng helped Lactaoen organize the event.
“It went great. We had a pretty good turnout this year,” Lactaoen said.
Sigma Psi Zeta continues supporting awareness of domestic violence amongst women.
More information about the Drexel Police Department’s Rape Aggression Defense Program, including how to sign up, can be found at www.drexel.edu/publicsafety/police.