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Time to Heal Dinner to promote solidarity

| Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Gender Relations Center (GRC) will host its annual Time to Heal dinner Thursday evening in the Morris Inn ballroom, bringing Sexual Violence Awareness month to a close.

“The Time to Heal Dinner affords an opportunity for our community to come together over a meal, to share stories and to extend support to those who have been affected by sexual violence or interpersonal violence,” Regina Gesicki, assistant director of educational initiatives for the GRC, said.

The event, which is open to all in the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and greater South Bend community, will include a business-casual dinner and a keynote speech delivered by a survivor of sexual violence, Gesicki said. The speech will be followed by a healing ritual, a prayer for healing and a vocal performance with songs centered on courage and hope. The program will also include a recitation of “impact statements,” providing testimony to the many ways violence pervades student life as well as the ways the community is working to heal from and prevent future violence.

“I have attended the event the past two years, and the atmosphere is very welcoming and empathetic,” junior Chizo Ekechukwu, an event facilitator for the GRC, said. “Unless you have personally experienced sexual violence or know someone who has, you are unable to completely relate to the survivors. But just being there to support them and walk with them in the healing process means the world.”

The dinner is the last event of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. Other events throughout the month of October included a mass of healing in the Log Chapel, bystander intervention workshops, a Men Against Violence pledge drive and the distribution of free GRC t-shirts and cups.

“Our objectives this year were to raise awareness, to support survivors and to provide concrete ways for members of our community to take action to prevent future incidents of violence,” Gesicki said. “The Time to Heal dinner is a space to accomplish all three of these goals. We come together after this month of varied events to listen, support and commit to taking care of our brothers and sisters.”

Ekechukwu said the event is both a learning opportunity and a stance of solidarity.

“Many students do not know much about sexual violence or the toll it can really take on people’s lives,” she said. “This event allows students to become more aware of the issues and reassures survivors that they have a whole community of support here at Notre Dame.”

Solidarity with survivors and keeping an open mind is imperative for this event, Gesicki said.

“We hope that our campus culture will continue to shift toward one in which violence of any kind is not tolerated,” she said.

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