SpeakOut!, held once in the fall and once in the spring, is a program featuring a series of anonymous testimonials about sexual and interpersonal violence. This year, there will be performances by a cappella group Cadence and spoken word organization UNC Wordsmiths. The event aims to create a space for both survivors to speak and allies to listen.
The testimonials shared at the event are made up of anonymous submissions left on the organization’s permanent blog. They will be reviewing stories up until the start of the event and then there will be an open mic at the end for those who would like to comment or share.
There were 21 reported rapes at UNC in 2015, according to the 2016 Annual Campus Security Report. The Pit will be decorated with stars for each reported assault at UNC and five additional for the number of testimonials Project Dinah receives.
Emily Crockett, a senior, had her story read at last year’s event.
“It was really powerful,” she said. “Hearing the same things I was thinking and the same emotions being so tangible.”
She said she is happy people are finally talking about the issue of sexual assault and there is an environment to have an open dialogue.
Crockett said the event was important because of the catharsis it provided to both the survivors and the allies.
The goal of the event is to put a voice to survivor’s experiences, said Anna Taylor, co-chairperson of SpeakOut!.
“Our sort-of slogan is to end the elements of shame and blame that surround sexual assault and interpersonal violence,” she said.
Taylor said Project Dinah hopes the event will put a face to an often unheard cause. She said she hopes this event will allow expression for both primary and secondary survivors of not only sexual violence, but also victims of family or interpersonal violence.
Taylor said she thinks survivors feel they are sometimes treated like statistics. By sharing these stories, they are adding humanity to the experiences so as to recognize the full cycle of interpersonal violence.
Courtney Dennis, publicity chairperson for Project Dinah, said she would like to see a member of the student government or the administration perhaps attend to show their support.
“SpeakOut! is important because it’s making the issue known, but can also be very comforting and offer reflection,” she said.
Dennis said the event will focus on the empowerment of survivors and the promotion of healthy relationships. She said she hopes attendees respect what survivors want and continue the support they have been giving in the past.
“We envision a world where relationships are free of fear and that’s what we try to drive across,” she said.