The Take Back the Night Rally was held at Augusta State University on Thursday night. (WRDW-TV / April 20, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o’clock / Thursday, April 19, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It was an emotional night at Augusta State University -- a night to talk about a crime people just don’t talk about.
Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes and many are trying to change that. Thursday night was the final event during the month of April spotlighting sexual assault and abuse.
Haely Chadwick, a survivor of sexual assault, was one of those who attended and shared her story.
“The questions replayed in my head over and over again. Why did they pick me? Was I too dumb, too weak or pathetic to defend myself?" she said.
She spoke publicly for the first time about what happened to her the summer after graduating from high school.
“They knew me,” she said. “They'd been to my home and welcomed into my family, how could they do such a thing to me ... They took a part of me, they raped me.”
For Chadwick, and many others, speaking out isn't easy.
“I almost backed out quite a few times, but I just keep reminding myself why you're doing this, you're gonna help somebody, you're the voice for someone else and that's helping me get through it,” she said.
Chadwick says it took her a year to finally admit what happened to her.
“That's the main thing I keep telling myself is that there's a survivor out there who is scared to tell for so long just like I was and I wanna be that voice for them to let them know that it's all right and the only way to stop this is to speak out against it,” she said.
She wasn't the only one sharing her story.
“I had just left church. I never will forget that night,” said one survivor.
“I don't mind getting up and telling my story because I know that there's probably somebody out there it's gonna help and that's why I do it,” said another.
Organizers say the ones telling the stories have the biggest impact on the people who hear them.
“You have people who come up and say, 'I've never told anybody this before,' but their story has empowered me to do that. And that's just I think the miracle of this is just to show that they are not alone,” said Crisis Specialist Charlotte Murton.
That’s a miracle Chadwick hopes she can bring to someone else who has been a victim.
The survivors were not the only speakers. They also had representatives from law enforcement, rape crisis and the Office of the U.S. attorney general.