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UCF students gathered for an international calling to end violence against women.

The third annual One Billion Rising event was hosted by UCF Victim Services on Friday.

Students participated in spoken word, a flash mob and spreading awareness about the statistics of violence against women. The event encouraged students to stand up against violence while victims broke the silence and shared their stories through art.

One in three women will be impacted by violence in their life, which is equivalent to one billion women and girls around the world, according to the One Billion Rising campaign website.

The event was coordinated by Fawn Bolak, a UCF 2014 graduate with both psychology and political science degrees.

"This event is being hosted the day before Valentine's Day to coincide with Eve Ensler's V-Day event," Bolak said. Eve Ensler is the woman behind "The Vagina Monologues" and V-Day. Their mission is to call for an end to violence against women and girls.

Kathryn Ross, a junior psychology and Spanish major, was the first to perform a spoken word poem at the event. She said she thought that having the event coincide with Valentine's Day was important.

"I think Valentine's Day should signify relationships, but some relationships are toxic," Ross said. "People shouldn't feel pressured to be in a dysfunctional relationship."

Kiara Montero-Reies, a sophomore sociology major, gave her input as to why she thought combining the event with the approaching romantic holiday was important.

"Valentine's Day is a holiday about love and not violence, and I am here to explain that," said Montero-Reies, who is an intern for UCF Victim Services. "I am participating to help explain that violence is a complex issue, and to explain that it is important to learn how to respect yourself before anyone else."

A flash mob appeared during the event where about 30 students danced to the song "Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé.

Ethan Hooper, a junior elementary education major, was a participant in the flash mob.

"I am here because I think that no one deserves to get hurt," Hooper said. "Some people take advantage of other people's vulnerability and don't think about the consequences."

The flash mob was choreographed by Professor Jude Siegfried, a dance professor in the theater department. She also choreographed the flash mob last year and continues to stand her ground.

"I rise against violence for many reasons," Siegfried said. "Everybody should be treated equally; no one should have to be afraid to walk anywhere, day or night; and I believe that we should teach children at a young age that violence is wrong."

Students were encouraged to write the reasons why they rise up against violence on a giant poster board and small cut-out hearts.

"I rise because I want campus to rise above the norm, overcoming obstacles and hindrances," said Chris Payem, a junior theatre major.

On one of the boards titled "I Rise Because…," Payem wrote, "With God, Nothing Shall Come Against Me."

"At UCF Victim Services, we provide realistic options and give our clients the pros and cons of the situation," said Bolak, who serves as a victim advocate for UCF Victim Services. "Doing this, we help to empower them and to help them take control of their lives."

UCF Victim Services provides support for students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus who have been a victim of crime, violence or abuse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with victimization, please contact UCF Victim Services at 407-823-1200, its 24/7 hotline.

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Alahna Kindred is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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