Students 'Unsilence the Violence'

Everyone knows a rapist, and everyone knows someone who has been raped, Kiara Alvarez '01 said in her provocative introduction to a day of events about sexual abuse and violence.

Alvarez and members of her sorority, the Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, planned the day of discussion and performance--called "Unsilence the Violence"--to "bring together more of a cross section" of individuals, especially minority students, to discuss sexual violence. Spoken Word Society and other concerned students also helped organize the event.

About 20 students attended the first event of the day, a discussion entitled "Abuse in Relationships: How Does This Relate to Me?" The discussion, led by Alvarez's mother, Dr. Ana Maria Ferrer of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, focused on identifying, addressing and preventing abuse in relationships.


Ferrer shared her own experiences as a victim of domestic abuse in her first marriage and stressed the importance of being aware of signs of abuse in a relationship.

"The pattern is always the same," she said. "It's not about anger; it's about power and control."

In response to student comments, Ferrer emphasized the crucial role of education in preventing sexual violence.

This message of empowerment carried through into the second component of "Unsilence the Violence"--a two-hour performance of poetry and art, featuring members of Harvard's Spoken Word Society and the BlackOut Boston Collective, a Boston performance group.

Standing beside a flower-covered altar in honor of survivors of abuse and sexual violence, performers encouraged the audience of approximately 40 students to join them in singing, "Silence no more. I was born to roar."

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