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Survivors speak up at Take Back the Night 25th anniversary

Claudia Hernandez
UTEP Take Back the Night at the Union Cinema Wednesday April 24th, 2019.

In celebration of  the 25 year anniversary of Take Back the Night (TBTN) at UTEP, students gathered Wednesday, April 24, at the Union Cinema to listen to the testimony of those who once were victims of sexual  and domestic abuse.

“And within seconds, I knew as soon as he opened that door ‘this was not what I wanted’,” said Juliette Grimmett, survivor and advocate against sexual violence at Chrysails Network. “I knew something bad was going to happen.”

Grimmett was one of the two survivors who shared their testimony Wednesday night.

According to Grimmett, she was in her first year of college attending Skidmore College in New York, when she was raped by a man named Adrian in her dorm room.

“I was completely numb as I’m sure a lot of you have heard survivors to have those feelings of numbness that can last, you know, everyone feels differently and has different journeys, but for me it was something really prevalent,”Grimmett said. “… And all I kept thinking was’ I know this is not what I wanted’ I said no many times and I pushed him away many times.”

Grimmettt shared with the audience the aftermath of the event and the lack of support from Skidmore college. A year after the rape. She moved back to her parents’ house where she began her healing process.

According to Grimmett the healing process started with the support of her family and friends back at home. She then decided to become an advocate to support other victims of sexual abuse.

“It was very difficult, but I knew this is what I needed,” Grimmett said. “I wanted to sort of commit my life to make sure that no one was treated the way I had been.”

The TBTN movement started in the 1970s as an attempt to raise awareness and combat sexual violence and abuse in school campuses and communities around the world.

Since then more than 800 communities around the world have held TBTN events around the world according to the organization’s website.

America Alvarez, a 23-year-old graduate student at UTEP, shared her story of domestic violence.

“I am a child survivor born into an abuse relationship in which my dad was the aggressor and my mom was the direct victim,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez shared that in her early years, her dad was her role model and the person she aspired to be, but as she grew older there was a shift that changed the environment at home.

“If he was upset at me for whatever reason, that was silent treatment for at least a month to three months,” Alvarez said. “And things got worse, he would only buy groceries for himself, so my mom and I had to struggle with that.”

According to Alvarez, one of the things that kept her moving forward during that time was the dream of graduating with honors from high school and college—goals she accomplished.

Alvarez mention the importance of seeking help and to keep an open mind when listening to those who have been victims of abuse.

“I really want to advise everyone to please not only keep an open mind, but an open heart, because this type of things are a lot more common that we’d like to admit,” Alvarez said. “If you’re going through something similar or you know someone, rest assure and know that you can overcome it, but you can’t do it alone and it’s perfectly okay to ask for help.”

At the end of the event, students, survivors and attendees held a moment of silence as they lighted up glowing sticks for the survivors and victims of sexual violence.

For more information about TBTN visit



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Survivors speak up at Take Back the Night 25th anniversary