SACIS 5K shows support for survivors


Analicia Haynes

Megan Haley, a graduate student in clinical counseling, dances while her friend Sydney Menigoz, another graduate student in clinical counseling, laughs on Saturday during the SACIS “Take Back the Day” 5k run/walk.

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

For Megan Haley, Courtney Dundee and Sydney Menigoz, three graduate students in the clinical counseling program, it takes a village to put an end to sexual violence.

But for the Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service, it can also take a 5K.

Eastern students and Charleston residents bundled up and headed for Sister City Park on Saturday as they braced colder temperatures for SACIS’ “Take Back the Day” 5k walk/run.

“Events like this just bring people together. 5K’s (are) of those things where it is quick and easy to get involved and brings that awareness and togetherness,” Haley said, her breath revealing itself in the brisk morning air.

Haley, Dundee and Menigoz all wore matching SACIS 5K T-shirts topped off with blue and white glitter covered tutus.

Dundee said they support “Take Back the Day” because all three women are future counselors.

Prevention and advocacy against sexual assault is important to them, she said.

Menigoz said the 5K is important to the community because the rates regarding sexual assault are a lot higher than what people understand about domestic violence.

“Having an organization like SACIS especially in a small town is awesome,” she said. “I’m from New York and we don’t have one in my hometown.”

Although the three graduate students agree that the 5K is a significant way to raise awareness and advocate against sexual violence, they said the community still faces its own problems when it comes to the subject.

“There’s a lot of blame that comes into effect when it comes to the lack of knowledge of (sexual violence),” Haley said. “There’s a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding if there’s not that awareness and that knowledge piece present.”

Dundee said as a community it is important to talk about the subject regardless of how uncomfortable the topic may be because it “needs to be talked about.”

“I know sometimes ignorance can be bliss but sometimes it’s not,” Menigoz said. “A lot of times (sexual assault) gets swept under the rug and nobody feels better about it.”

Katie Hecksel, the president of the SACIS board, brought her family to the walk.

She said it is helpful to show public support for the sake of survivors.

“I think a lot of survivors feel alone because there are a lot of reasons people feel like they can’t speak out, and knowing that there are people who support them is helpful,” Hecksel said as she helped her partner, Alicia Neil, wrangle their 2-year-old daughter Caroline.

Dundee said the way to prevent sexual violence and assault is to not be afraid to talk about it, or the stigmas associated with it.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]