By: Mira Costello
On April 18, students gathered to Take Back the Night by participating in the annual sexual violence awareness event.
This year, members of campus sorority Alpha Sigma Tau (AST) hosted the event in collaboration with various campus organizations including the Honors Program, the Queer-Straight Alliance, the Student Government Association, the Black Student Union and more.
AST leader Taylor Stevanson opened the event with the poem “Victim to Survivor.” She then provided a history of Take Back the Night, which is held on college campuses around the country and began in the 1970s in response to a spike in cases of sexual violence against young women.
Other presenters provided statistics about sexual assault in the U.S., some of which are provided in the adjacent infographic, and discussed coping strategies to heal and foster hope after being a victim of sexual violence.
Representatives from the Family Justice Center (FJC), including alumna Kayla Isenbletter and SOS Coordinator Megan Elbin, were present at the event to support students and provide information about the services offered by the FJC, which provides resources for women, children and people escaping domestic abuse and recovering from sexual violence.
Autumn McCully, Vice President of Empowerment Services and Director of Children’s Services for the North Central Indiana YWCA, also gave an overview of the services offered by the YWCA shelter and was present as an on-site counselor for students who needed support during the event.
Following the presentations and guest speakers, attendees held posters they decorated earlier in the night with anti-sexual violence slogans in preparation for the second portion of the event, a march against sexual violence. Demonstrators received slips of paper with chants on them, which were led during the march by social work student Jamie Zheng.
The chants included:
Women unite! Take back the night! Shatter the silence, break the violence! Claim our bodies. Claim our right. Take a stand. Take back the night!
2, 4, 6, 8. No more violence, no more rape!
What do we want? A safe campus! When do we want it? Now~
Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!
Hey hey, ho ho, sexual assault has got to go!
After the march, attendees gathered in front of the grill and lit candles, holding a moment of silence for survivors of sexual violence.
Once the vigil concluded, students headed inside for a candid discussion about their own stories of sexual violence, which was moderated by Kayla Isenbletter. Many shared heartfelt stories and expressed gratitude for the meaning of the event.
“People all go through something. I wanted to be one of those people who shared my experiences, just to remind people that there is someone out there that cares about them,” senior Nora Adawi said.
Gage Proctor, a junior in attendance, echoed a similar sentiment.
“Due to my personal experiences, I wanted to represent the portion of male victims, and I wanted to bring more eyes on that, because I believe that’s not really focused on a lot. Men struggle with mental health as it is, and we get often overlooked in mental health,” he said. “It has gotten a lot better, but I just want to bring that male perspective, and I want to stand up for the voiceless, whether that be male, female, or whoever – I want to be there.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence and needs support, check out these resources:
- Report an incident online: stopsexualviolence.iu.edu
- Laura Harlow, Deputy Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Coordinator:574-520-5536
- IUPD: 574-520-4239
- Student counseling center: 574-520-4125