Take Back the Night highlights how far society has come in the fight to end sexual violence and how far there is to come
It’s every college student’s worst fear and the statistics are heard daily. It happens to one in six males. It happens to one in four females. It happened to Juliette Grimmett, the keynote speaker at the Center for Wellness’s annual Take Back the Night event.
Take Back the Night is an international event that began in the United States in the late 1970s as a response to sexual violence against women. Originally organized as all-women events, Take Back the Night demonstrates that women don’t need men to be safe. Over 600 college campuses host an event per year during sexual assault awareness month, including UNC Charlotte, which held the event April 4 in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center Salons.
Juliette Grimmett shared her story of overcoming emotional trauma after being raped by another student during her freshman year of college.
Juliette Grimmett explained how she decided to have an on-campus hearing in an attempt to get her rapist suspended. During the two months between the time of the sexual assault and the hearing, Juliette Grimmett said she found four other women assaulted by her rapist, who all notified the Dean of Students. While the school found him responsible, he was only given one year of probation, which allowed her rapist to remain on campus and in an athletic program, until a year passed and the sexual assault was taken off his record.
Today, her rapist has almost 10,000 followers on Twitter and is employed by George W. Bush.
Juliette Grimmett talked about her attempts to prevent sexual violence from happening to other students, including writing a letter to the paper where she talked about how the school had treated her during her hearing. Afterwards, she decided to take a semester off and later transferred to the University of South Carolina.
While working toward her master’s at UNC Chapel Hill, Juliette Grimmett created proposals and petitions and convinced the University to establish an office dedicated to sexual violence response.
“I was committed to no person ever not having an advocate,” Grimmett said.
Juilette Grimmett has worked in the field of sexual violence advocacy, education and prevention for over 18 years, and specifically on college campuses for the past 10 years. She has worked at University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University and is the founder of the Chrysalis Network, an organization that works to prevent sexual violence through programs and training.
Juliette Grimmet was joined by the organization’s lead consultant and her partner Marc Grimmett, who specializes in mental health.
Marc Grimmett reflected on an experience he had while working as a resident assistant in his college hall. He was asked to help with a crisis involving a student who had just been raped. He said when he entered the victim’s room, she was blocked in by two police officers.
“This is a very intimidating position to have just been raped by a man and to have two men standing over you and blocking you from leaving your room. Without any formal training, I knew to ask the police officers to please leave and let me talk to my friend and ask her for her permission if she wanted to talk to me,” Marc Grimmett said.
After hearing from the speakers, those in attendance marched from the Student Activity Center to the Student Union with signs and candles. Once at the Union, students shared their own stories.
UNC Charlotte provided information about resources for those who have been a victim of sexual assault. Resources include the Title IX office and Police and Public Safety. Confidential resources include the Center for Wellness Promotion, The Counseling Center and Student Health Center.