Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 27, 2017

Feminist Student Union, CARE Initiative Hosts First 'Voices Against Violence' Talent Show 

Kaity Collins 

The first-ever Voices Against Violence event was hosted at Manchester University in Winger Recital Hall on Thursday, October 19, at 9 p.m. The event was hosted by Jillian Watts, Director of the CARE Initiative, with the assistance of the Feminist Student Union. Voices Against Violence is meant to bring awareness about the severity and different forms of domestic violence, for October is domestic violence awareness month.

Watts kicked off the evening by informing the audience about domestic violence and why it is such an important issue to learn about. Afterwards, nine volunteers who had submitted poems, reflections, letters and spoken words were introduced to share their testimonies on the issue. President Dave McFadden was first to read a poem he had picked followed by eight other students, graduates and staff members who each told their story and explained their experiences on sexual assault, intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence. “A lot of it was hard to listen to and understand," sophomore Natalie Collins said, “but it made me realize that these stories are closer to home than I thought.”

The final testimony was by an anonymous university staff member who wrote a reflection of her experience. Watts read it out loud herself since the actual author wished to remain unknown.

Attendees called the event anything from “inspirational” to “encouraging,” due to all the powerful testimonies that were shared. “The power and influence of this type of event is hard to put into words,” said senior Emma Hyndman. “But every speaker ended on a positive note which shows their growth through each of their experiences.”

The Voices Against Violence event was created to bring awareness to the seriousness of domestic violence, and to communicate that both male and females can be victims of it. Many survival stories were told by individuals who were affected by domestic violence, but in the end, the messages they wanted to convey were all about encouragement and moving past such experiences.

“I want to continue to do this as an alumna,” Hyndman said. “I found it both triggering and resurfacing.”