In advance of Tampa’s annual “Take Back the Night” on April 29, Academy sophomores had an opportunity on Thursday, April 19, to hear Crisis Center spokewoman Marilyn Bray share personal accounts and information on sexual violence. Bray, a rape survivor herself, shared her inspirational story, bringing many girls to tears.
Speaking to religion classes throughout the day, Bray retold her story along with stories of victims she has helped, including details of how to help raise awareness for sexual violence. Bray revealed that sharing her experience has significantly helped in her healing process.
Many statistics shocked sophomores, including the fact that about 86% of the time, rapists know their victims personally. The girls also learned that one-in-four women come in contact with some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes. The girls were shaken by the prevalence of sexual abuse, especially when Bray explained that her story took place right on nearby Howard Avenue.
Bray also offered pro-active advice for anyone caught in a situation similar to hers. The Crisis Center offers a help hotline 24/7, which is 2-1-1. Counselors offer advice on sexual violence, assault, suicidal thoughts, or any other related issue that may come up. She also told the girls that if they should ever be raped, to avoid showering and keep any clues or evidence that might deem important. Bray emphasized that when she counsels survivors, she tells first, that it is not their fault; second, that they are not alone; and third, that there is hope for a way out.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay offers counseling on many other trauma-related issues such as suicide. After the center sponsored placing six phones atop bridges in the Tampa Bay Area, they have saved every life but one. The Center also offers a safe place for women, single mothers, war veterans, or anyone else afflicted with a traumatic experience.
On Sunday, April 29, Take Back the Night, an event to raise awareness for sexual abuse, will take place at Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa from 4:00-7:00 pm. Leaving the girls with her stories, her advice, and a way to help the cause, Bray finished her presentation with the reminder to call 2-1-1 if ever in trouble.
The sophomores were shocked and changed by Bray’s account, and many expressed the desire to show up to support Take Back the Night.