Take Back the Night: “Rise Lead Inspire”
By Francesca Gugino
On Wednesday, April 4, Niagara University will host its third annual Take Back the Night event (TBTN). TBTN is a national movement that promotes and advocates for the end to all sexual violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and all other forms of sexual abuse. The organization’s mission is to raise awareness and provide community for survivors and allies. It’s origins trace back to 1960s movements in Europe, as women felt unsafe walking the streets alone at night. This initiative moved to the United States in the 1970s, as communities of women marched, protested and rallied for an end to violence against women.
TBTN events have been hosted by over 800 different communities, many being institutions for higher education. Presently, the initiative has spread its message to over 30 million people in more than 36 different countries, and the movement continues to positively impact college campuses and other communities by raising awareness, increasing understanding, showing support and strengthening relationships.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their college experience. Only 10% of these victims report their assaults, meaning that 90% of these crimes go unreported. Many may be thinking: “Something like this could never happen at a small catholic university like Niagara,” but this naivety only perpetuates the problems that many people face globally, especially women between the ages of 18 and 24. According to the Niagara University Campus Crime Statistics, there were six reported on-campus rapes in 2016. TBTN and other events that increase awareness and advocate for an end to sexual violence are vital on colleges campuses and at Niagara University.
Sexual violence can affect anyone, and it is important to understand, support and be present for survivors. On the Take Back the Night website, there is a section dedicated to Survivor Stories, where people from all backgrounds are welcome to share what happened to them, in a way to create closure and to truly understand that they are not alone.
In the wake of current social movements, specifically #MeToo and #TimesUp, this event is imperative to attend. TBTN at NU will be a time to understand, listen to and stand in solidarity with survivors, while also contributing to an environment where everyone can feel safe and push toward ending the stigmas that are present in America’s rape culture. This year’s TBTN event, “Rise, Lead, Inspire,” will continue to call for awareness and create change in society to end victimization. The event will focus on how social and political change can create an end to sexual violence, while encouraging attendees to use their voices and become pilots for change.
This year the event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Gallagher Center gym. T-shirts and backpacks will be given away at the opening of the doors, so you are encouraged to come early and bring a friend. It is important that we stand together and understand and support survivors of all types of sexual violence and that we listen and move toward change.
Photos from TBTN 2017, Andrew Emmons