TAMPA Survivors of sexual violence and their supporters will gather April 21 at a free public event to increase awareness of the issue and provide strength and comfort to victims.
Take Back the Night, an interactive event, will be at 4 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park. Sponsored by the Sexual Violence Task Force of Tampa, in conjunction with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, the event will include a candlelight vigil, music, resource fair, children's activities and survivor speak-out.
"Sexual violence is still happening and we are not going to accept it," said Lepena Powell Reid, co-chair of the task force. "We are going to our voice out in the community."
The event, now in its 11th year, is expected to draw between 800 and 1,000 attendees, said Marilyn Shamblin, empowerment coordinator for sexual assault services at the Crisis Center. She said 90 organizations and agencies are participating in some way in the event.
"We want to support the survivors, give them empowerment and healing," Shamblin said. "It helps people come to what has happened."
Recently a dozen volunteers gathered at the crisis center in North Tampa to stuff 100 teal-colored empowerment comfort bags for survivors to be distributed.
They included information, candy, tea bags, pens, candles, lotions, notepads and hand-written cards of support.
Myshanda Maldonado was among those writing notes.
"Even though they don't know me, I want them to know that I still care," she said.