Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sexual violence survivors and their supporters share messages of hope at USF Thursday

TAMPA — A chime rang out every two minutes, a steady reminder of how often women are raped in the United States.

The chimes continued as speakers took to a microphone to encourage the crowd of women and men to take a stand against sexual violence and abuse at Take Back the Night at the University of South Florida on Thursday night.

Elizabeth Moschella, a senior, recalled the first time she showed up for the annual candlelight vigil and speak-out against violence four years ago. She hadn't planned on it, but she ended up sharing her own story that night.

How she was raped at a party three days before her freshman year began. How she took a cup of what she thought was just water from a guy she met earlier. How she started feeling dizzy from the drug she later realized had been put in the cup.

Moschella, now 22, grappled with guilt and shame then. Close friends blamed her. They asked her what she'd been wearing, and why she'd taken the cup in the first place.

Today, she is president of the group that sponsored Thursday's event, N.I.T.E. — Network. Improve. Transform. Empower.

"Ever since then, the more I've become involved in the organization and the realm of sexual violence and violence in general, with sharing my story I can help somebody else know they aren't alone," Moschella said before the event Thursday.

She shared her story again about two years ago, this time with a video on YouTube, to take her message of support and empowerment to a wider audience.

Moschella thinks people blame victims because it makes them feel like it can't happen to them. They can't be a victim if they're careful enough or smart enough.

"No one wants to think that way. Instead they blame, because it feels better to know it can't happen to you," she said.

That was part of Thursday's message, that victims don't need blame, they need support. And hope.

Cheryl Ricciardi, Florida statewide crisis response coordinator for the Attorney General's Office and the night's keynote speaker, talked about her work in crisis counseling.

"I have seen some of the most unimaginable, unthinkable, horrific things people do to other people," she said. But hope is the common thread in all the work she's done, she said. It's the essential piece for victims and their supporters.

"It's always hope that is present, that keeps us moving," Ricciardi said, as another chime sounded. "Hope keeps us on target, hope leads the way."

Keeley Sheehan can be reached at ksheehan@tampabay.com.

KENT NISHIMURA | Times

Alyssa Dugent, 21, hugs her boyfriend Ethan Mckenzie, 22, after a Take Back the Night rally against sexual violence and abuse hosted by the student organization N.I.T.E. — Network. Improve. Transform. Empower — on Thursday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Alyssa shared her personal experiences during the program. Story, 3B.

Sexual violence survivors and their supporters share messages of hope at USF Thursday 04/03/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 3, 2014 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hernando sheriff: Orlando mother turns in 18-year-old son in pawn shop burglary

    Crime

    Times Staff Writer

    SPRING HILL — Hernando deputies have arrested a fourth person in connection with a pawn shop burglary, but they really didn't have to do anything to find him.

    Elijah Pickard, 18, of Orlando, was turned in by his own mother in connection with a pawn shop burglary, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office [Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Bob Buckhorn and Tampa council say county vote on Confederate statue doesn't speak for them

    Local

    TAMPA — It was the Hillsborough County Commission that voted not to remove a statue honoring the Confederacy, but Tampa officials are worried that the city, not the county, will pay the price.

    The Hillsborough County Commission voted 4-to-3 this week to leave in place a Confederate monument outside the old county courthouse. It was dedicated in 1911 with a speech calling African-Americans "ignorant and inferior'' and saying a president who would appoint a black resident to a job in the South "engenders sectional bitterness, encourages lynchings, injures the negro," and is "a traitor to the Anglo-Saxon race." CHRIS URSO   |   Times
  3. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  4. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections