On the move and passionately on message, a Massachusetts city was marching against sexual violence Thursday night.
Among the marchers and speakers in Lowell was Maude Gorman, from Hingham, newly-chosen Miss Massachusetts and a survivor of the trauma of sexual violence.
Gorman told necn she suffered post-traumatic stress from the violence committed against her and even had to drop out of high school for a while. She managed to get back and graduate at the top of her class before going on to win the miss Massachusetts pageant.
Additionally, necn spoke with Lisa Nolan, another survivor of sexual assault and abuse. She said that no fewer than eight times, she had been subjected to sexual violence.
Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliott welcomed the marchers for the city's 10th annual Take Back The Night rally. He commended the men who joined the women in the effort to take on the trauma and the crime of sexual violence.
City Councilor Rita Mercier exhorted women in the crowd to demand the respect due to them and to insist that no means no.
The march's terminus this year was the University of Massachusetts Lowell student center where, in the lobby, there is a unique giant gift box display, noting all of the ways that pimps and traffickers use to entice victims into virtual slavery, assault and prostitution.
The latest news from around the state
The UMass Lowell faculty member who oversees the display said that the box symbolically notes all the familiar enticements that men and women from poor families hear from traffickers, such as that they might meet new people.
They should meet Gorman, Miss Massachusetts, who was raped by men she would never see again at the age of 13 and has found a way to move beyond The trauma.
"If they are out there, I didn't let it defeat me," she said.