DES MOINES, Iowa -- The 33rd annual “Take Back the Night” event was held Wednesday evening in Polk County.
The event is aimed at empowering survivors and raising awareness about violence in our communities.
“Crime is everywhere; crime happens in our wealthier neighborhoods, in our less wealthy neighborhoods, it happens everywhere. No matter what the crime is if there is a victim they've been injured in some way and we need to make sure we`re offering services and supporting them,” says Take Back the Night volunteer Nick Sarcone.
The event included several booths with information for survivors, ways the community can get involved, and a panel discussion with both professionals and survivors including Rachel Stokka.
“When I was 16 I was sexually abused by my youth pastor over a process of about six months.”
Stokka said her abuse finally ended after a suicide letter she wrote was found by her family.
She says after that the state filed charges against her offender.
“It makes me sad I was so low but it makes me grateful that it all came out and I know it doesn't hold me back and if anything it`s spurred me on and I’m a stronger person and more brave,” Stokka says.
Stokka has been able to heal by helping other children and says events like this are crucial to helping a survivor move on.
“It empowers a survivor to put themselves back out there to take back some little fragment of control.”
A 5K is being held this weekend to benefit charities that help survivors of crime.
The event will be Saturday at 8 a.m. at Raccoon River Park.
More information can be found clicking here.