Please see the reflection below provided by Stephanie Benitez, a junior at Loyola pursuing a degree in psychology.

The importance of speaking emotionally.

I find that many times people tend to be indirect when talking about what hurts them. Rather than see the strength of their connection to their emotions, they see weakness and fault. To prevent that weakness from being exposed, some people will try to be passive about their pain. Others will not even give their pain a chance to surface. I am a repeat offender of working my feelings away. Why feel pain when there is so much work to be done right now? I will take up extra shifts; I will do school assignments ahead of time. Fortunately, my best friend has a natural talent for making me talk about things, and it does really feel better to talk things out. I like to think that every word spoken gets whisked away, pain and all, and dissipates like smoke into the atmosphere. It is a soothing image that makes handling my moments of openness a little easier.

I think vulnerability is powerful, even if I have my own fears of being vulnerable. That’s why Take Back the Night is such an important event to me. The survivors always look nervous, scared, and sometimes determined as they walk up to the microphone. Nevertheless, every year people show up and whether or not they planned on talking, they find the strength to talk about this painful moment in their lives in a direct, honest, and unabashed manner. People will come forward and talk about the physical and emotional difficulties that they face in the aftermath. I watch them speak, and I feel so proud to see that emotional power within them compelling them to share their pain with a sea of unfamiliar faces. It lights up like a fire that makes each word loud, clear, and weighted, as it should be. These are the realities of trauma faced, endured, and overcome.

            I think that a lot of influence comes not just from the night itself, but from each and every person that tells his or her story. The main contributor to the persistence of injustice is silence, and how can anyone ever know just how common sexual assault is if no one is there to be a witness? Some women and men do not have the option to speak, but at least once out of the year, the people that can speak have all the freedom in the world to be one more voice against a grave and ugly injustice that must be stopped.

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