By Liz Oakes, First Response/Court Advocate
Take Back the Night will be held at Oakland University on Tuesday, April 17. The event will be open to the community from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m., with a concert following the event. Take Back the Night will include a motivational rally, a march to raise awareness, and a survivor speak-out. For more information on being involved with Take Back the Night, contact Liz Oakes at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Nesbitt at email@example.com.
Our tagline for Take Back the Night is “Many Voices Ending Silence.” Why is this important? Because so many people are afraid to speak out on the matter, and rightfully so. In a world that can be so blaming of survivors, it is understandable why many don’t speak up. Considering the fact that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the survivor, there are all kinds of emotional drama that a survivor is subject to if she speaks up against someone who may very well be known and respected by her family/peers. Not all families are supportive as they should be when such a horrendous act is committed by someone who was thought to be trusted among the survivor’s family.
When we think of sexual violence, many people imagine a scenario of a woman walking by herself late at night, being grabbed in a dark alley and assaulted by a man she has never met. We imagine a world where women are afraid of the dark, afraid of the night. Events such as Take Back the Night were formed with the hopes of making the night safe again.
As a First Responder at HAVEN, these stories have almost become the norm for me. But they don’t only include women walking alone being assaulted. They also include girl’s nights out where someone thinks they can have a fun time in a safe environment at a party or club, but they weren’t asking for what happened to them. Young girls assaulted by family or friends of family at ages when they deserved to hold onto their innocence.
Sadly, after hearing these stories, society’s gut reaction is to respond with “she should have known better.” Our society still likes to believe that we live in a safe and just world. It makes things more comfortable to think that way. Not to think that just by being a female, no matter what you do, you’re at an increased risk for sexual violence. Not to think that these crimes do occur, in our neighborhoods, and that doesn’t matter where you live or whether you’re rich, poor, or middle-classed.
If society really hopes for a safe and just world, they must act. However, without more men and women confronting this issue, we can’t give the message to those who do commit assaults that society will not condone this behavior anymore. Silence is what allows violence against women to thrive.
By participating in Take Back the Night, we let the world know that this is not OK. We let survivors know that nothing they could have done, nothing they could have worn, and nowhere they could have gone, would have made it OK for someone to commit an act of sexual violence. We let the world know that we won’t allow this behavior anymore. We stand together and we stand strong, fighting for an end to sexual violence.
Editor’s note: Join us on Tuesday, April 17 for Take Back the Night at Oakland University. Follow our Facebook event for more details.