Brave voices standing against sexual assault
Hayley Darien shares how the Brave Voices club provides a space for survivors of sexual assault and open discussion about awareness and prevention. | Becky Mitchell/THE CHIMES
In the Brave Voices club you do not have to tiptoe around the words of sexual assault, where there are survivors of sexual assault and friends to support them. The club wishes to provide a safe community for survivors to share any current feelings and not live alone in shame, said senior Hayley Darien, president of Brave Voices and elementary education major.
The idea for Brave Voices began with a Point article about sexual violence in spring 2015 with the intention of creating a club called “more than conquerors” to encourage survivors. The club began officially in Oct. 2015, with the added intention of advocacy and awareness of sexual assault.
“I wanted to start this group because my heart was hurting for people [who’ve] been victims of sexual assault who are living with shame and living kind of in isolation thinking that it’s their fault and thinking they have to be quiet about it,” Darien said. “Now it’s become wanting to spread awareness on campus and bring light here where this thing is actually an issue.”
THE KEY FACTORS
With one of the key factors in the club being voice, such as sharing in the meetings, students have the chance to spread awareness.
“Voice was very important to me because that’s something that’s silent during assault and also afterwards … survivors don’t think they can speak up about it out of fear or shame or whatever it may be,” Darien said. “I think that’s one of the first steps to healing, is speaking up about what happened to you. [Voice is] a word of empowerment and healing and taking back what was taken from you.”
Survivors gain courage and find healing by attending the meetings. During club meetings, held in the Mosaic Cultural Center on Wednesdays at 9 p.m., a devotional is often read and then a time for reflection opens up.
“In that three years [after my assault] I have never found a group who would listen to my story without judgement and help me grow,” said Kate Walker, junior cinema and media arts major. “[They] weren’t afraid to call out the lies that I was believing about myself, but who were there with just warm tea and hugs and love, and that has helped me in my healing journey so much.”
A HEALING PLACE
The gatherings provide a vital healing place for survivors, but also an eye-opening experience for those who have not been personally affected by the issue.
“Even if this hasn’t affected you personally odds are, statistically speaking, that you know someone this affects, and even if you don’t this is an issue that our brothers and sisters in Christ have to deal with and handle,” said Moriah McCune, sophomore political science major. “Joining this club or attending a meeting and learning about the problem of sexual assault and things of that nature helps the cause.”
The stories shared or referenced during the sessions contain honesty and pain. They are accepted without judgement, and seen as a way to move forward — both in healing and standing up against sexaul assault.
“If you care about this issue at all come sit with us, have a mug of tea with us and just come and listen,” Walker said. “It’ll be hard to hear, but I think the truth sets all of us free and there’s so much truth that goes on at Brave Voices.”
A CALL FOR CHANGE
Additionally there is a call for change, where hopefully people will desire to bring healing and freedom at Biola, Darien said. The club also has specific nights for just sharing spoken word or praying, one of which will be held on March 2.
“We all as a group wanted to have a [prayer] night where we could invite those friends who don’t really know what to do but want to be supportive, or want to learn more, to come and hear our hearts and hear our vision and kind of share with us in that and go to God with it,” Darien said.
TAKE BACK THE NIGHT
Another way for students to get involved is during the Sexual Violence Prevention Education Week in April. Throughout the week Brave Voices plans to host two events, one of which will be two students sharing their survivor stories followed by a spoken word workshop. The second event, called Take Back the Night, is part of a nationwide event to “create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives,” according to the official Take Back the Night website.
“We want it to be a time where we are kind of marching in unity and kind of declaring light in our lives and on this campus. Leaving the darkness behind and saying that it doesn’t have any substance believing that the darkness doesn’t have any hold of us,” Darien said.