March, vigil featured in event tonight to increase awareness of sexual assault

City health commissioner, Balto. Co. judge to speak

April 14, 2004|By Lauren Harner | Lauren Harner,SUN STAFF

Even a forecast of rain won't stop TurnAround Inc. from taking back the night.

TurnAround, a Baltimore nonprofit organization that offers counseling and support to survivors of sexual assault, will hold its annual Stop the Violence and Take Back the Night rally today at 6 p.m. It will include a march, a candlelight vigil and a chance for victims and community members to speak out about their experiences.

All activities will proceed as planned, rain or shine, with the exception of the march, said spokeswoman Tracy Gibson. The event will be moved inside the First Unitarian Church at 1 W. Hamilton St. in Baltimore, if necessary.

Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the Baltimore City health commissioner, and Vicki Ballou-Watts, a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge, will be speakers.

"In the past couple years we've had men," Gibson said of their choice to have Ballou-Watts speak. "We wanted to make it more diverse and move inside the community."

Take Back the Night events have been held around the world since they originated in San Francisco 25 years ago. They are typically held in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Tonight's rally will include acoustic music and art projects, as well as the march and the vigil. One art project will be a large canvas where participants will be able to express their feelings about domestic violence by painting pictures or writing messages.

"We want to bring women and men together to create a community where violence is not acceptable," said Gibson.

Other organizations that support domestic violence victims and their relatives will have tables set up to distribute information and to raise awareness for their causes.

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