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Take Back the Night at Rollins was a success, thanks to the resilient survivors and allies that made the night one about healing, validation and strength. This is probably the single most important event that’s hosted on campus and I’m so glad to have been a part of it.

Sexual assault and domestic violence affect too many. One night to talk/shout/cry/listen about it is only the start in putting an end to the violence in our lives.

Last night I went to TBTN with the expectation that it would depress me for a few days and I was really hesitant about it. I tried to find excuses to not go throughout the week. I didn’t want to get upset, I didn’t want to ride my bike so far, I was too sore from working out, the last time I went I had been depressed for days after. But it was a beautiful night, there was a full moon, I was inspired by Jackson Katz’s lecture the night before, and everything in my gut was telling me to go. 

If I learned anything last night, it’s how community is so incredibly understated and so important. The applause after speakers was just astounding, so full of support and love and unconditional acceptance. I have so much respect and love for every single one of the speakers and I was so inspired to continue the fight against abuse and sexual assault with my sisters in feminism.

I was bummed that I missed take back the night bc it’s an event that was super formative for me as a young feminist but then I remembered that TBTN is perpetually overrun with THE SMARMIEST liberal men and how the last time I was there every convo was like “Yeah, I agree that real men don’t rape! I love how liberated you are. Wanna come back to my shitty college apartment and talk about oppressive power structures?” And WHY would I subject myself to that when there’s froyo to be had, you know?

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Take Back The Night was soooo empowering and so wonderful and I just wanna let all my ladies and all my fellas know that if there is one thing I learned tonight, it’s the redemptive power in being a survivor outweighs the trama of being a victim. Ya’ll got support. You best believe you got support with me. STAY STONG EVERYBODY. And with that, I leave you this video. 

I went to Take Back the Night.

No photo of the vigil this year because a) the wind kept blowing the candles out and b) I don’t have a camera anymore.

I made a short post about last year’s TBtN here.

There was much less about their “men can prevent rape” initiative this year, and along with that, pretty much no mention of queer-based violence. The police department was also unrepresented, replaced by a video on the VOICE initiative that was a lot of talk and no follow-through. But, you know, I guess they didn’t have that much to work with.

I also didn’t get a ribbon? So I got to reflect on those survivors that I love and admire on my own, without the symbolism and whatnot. I don’t really know why that was so disappointing, but oh well.

I said it last year, and even though this post is long enough already, I’ll say it again here: Just want you guys to know that if you are a victim or a survivor of sexual violence, assault, or abuse, you are not alone… You don’t have to do this by yourself.

The only word to describe my evening: EMPOWERING.

This afternoon, I found this amazing project, which helps victims of sexual assault, rape, molestation, and sexual violence speak out using the words of their attackers. It’s really emotionally moving. I went through the entire blog and even submitted my own story, which isn’t really something I talk about very often.

Then this evening, I went to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT, a march across campus to protest sexual violence. You know that old rape culture warning, where women aren’t supposed to walk alone at night? That was what we were protesting. I made a poster that read INSTEAD OF TELLING WOMEN NOT TO WALK, TELL MEN NOT TO RAPE. We walked past some of the frat houses, and all down Sorority Row, where many instances of sexual assault have occurred. Everyone had posters and we chanted together as we marched. Some of the chants:

  • NO MORE DATE RAPE
  • NO MEANS NO
  • GATORS UNITE, TAKE BACK THE NIGHT.

My personal favorite was:

  • WE HAVE THE POWER, WE HAVE THE RIGHT, THESE STREETS ARE OURS, TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

But they were also chanting:

  • REAL MEN DON’T RAPE

And I found that to be problematic for a host of different reasons, so I didn’t lend my voice to that one. But that aside, it was a really great march, even though it rained a little. The walk finished in an outdoor auditorium, where representatives from the local rape crisis centers got to talk about the services their organizations provided. After that, they opened the mic to anyone who wanted to share a story. It was truly a uniting experience- so many different women of all different ages, races, sizes, and beliefs came forward to share their individual stories and how they moved on or what they’ve learned. Already feeling super empowered from the afternoon and the march, I again shared my story, and stressed that more than anything, you are always stronger than your abuser will ever be. They can take so much else away from you, but they can never take that. I was moved to tears more than once throughout the event, and when everyone was done with their stories (some of them were so, so tragic) a local singer-songwriter who’s also been a victim of sexual violence came and sang some beautiful songs about her experiences and triumphs. It was such a spectacular night.

Take Back the Night TONIGHT at Loyola at 6:00 P.M.

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This community event, sponsored by Loyola, Tulane, and Dillard Universities of New Orleans, is a call to end sexual violence against women, men, and children. It is also a powerful healing ritual for survivors of violence and for the men and women who care about them. The emotionally powerful evening includes speakers from Loyola, Tulane, and the New Orleans community who share their personal stories of abuse and healing. This… year is the 20th anniversary of the Take Back the Night March.

Sexual violence is a community issue, affecting people of all ages, genders, and sexualities. Join us in Taking Back the Night for a ceremony at the Loyola Horseshoe followed by a march to Tulane’s Freeman Auditoriuml, where an open mic session will be held.

In conjunction with the event, a fundraiser will be held in support of women’s and survivor’s services in the greater New Orleans area. Participants are encouraged to purchase $1 raffle tickets to support these services. There will be tables set up in the Danna Center (Loyola) and the LBC (Tulane) to purchase tickets for the chance to win gift baskets valued at $50-100 the week prior to the event. Donations will go to Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program, and Crescent House.

Sexual assault by a friend, date partner, or casual acquaintance is the most prevalent form of sexual assault on college campuses. It is predicted that one in seven college women will be raped before graduation, and 90 percent will know their attacker.

How will YOU take back the night?