UCF Aims To Stop Sexual Violence

“Until the Violence Stops” was the theme of the night Saturday, March 31 at the Florida Cape Ballroom at the University of Central Florida. The event, sponsored by UCF Victims Services and Knights Advocates, was geared towards raising awareness about violence, specifically towards women through the production of “The Vagina Monologues.”

“The Vagina Monologues” was written by Eve Ensler to give a voice to women. Ensler discovered about one in three women were violated in some way. Through this process, she created a movement known as V-Day; the script to “The Vagina Monologues” is given out and the proceeds go towards helping those in need.

The movement is meant to create a forum for discussion as well as a healing platform for those affected by violence. Knights Advocates is a registered student organization which works very closely with Victims Services. It is an organization created for students who are interested in advocacy to get an idea of what it is like working in that field. The president of the organization, Amanda Hankins, is also a full time advocate for Victims Services.

“I’d eventually like to see Knights Advocates expand and grow through ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to be the biggest in central Florida as a social services club in central Florida,” Hankins said. “Violence against women is a large part of what we do, it’s a huge problem.”

This year’s cast is made up of 12 girls, most of which are members of Knights Advocates. However, some of the cast members are no longer UCF students and come back because the cause is so important to them. Carol Palumbo loves the message that the show puts out and that its main focus is to raise money for women who are victims of sexual violence. Palumbo has been involved in the production for seven years and has directed the production twice.

“To be a part of something like that is possibly one of the most amazing stage experiences I’ve ever had,” said Palumbo. “Because you’re not working with actors, it’s not about putting on a performance; it’s about educating through art.”

When the show ends, Palumbo is already looking for new venues and marketing ideas for the production. She exerts her passion for the cause on and off the stage. But her passion for the production also comes from a personal experience.

“I was sexually abused as a child by a member of my family and never received counseling,” said Palumbo. “I don’t want someone to ever have to go through something like that and not receive care.”

She says people still don’t believe that this happens to every day girls, that its something that happens on TV and in the movies. This year’s production raised $2,700. The majority of those proceeds will go to Victims Services to be used in emergency situations. The advocates at Victim Services are available 24 hours a day. They are there to help victims explore their rights and options as well provide information about the civil, university, and criminal justice systems. “The Vagina Monologues” is the only form of fundraising they have.

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