Hundreds of OU Students Rally to Take Back the Night
Take Back the Night, which is in its 33rd year, happens annually and is the product of the Ohio University Student Senate Women’s Commission in collaboration with the Women’s Center and the Survivor Advocacy Program. This year’s rally included speakers, acapella singing groups Title IX and the Tempo Tantrums, a candlelight vigil and an opening speech from Women’s Center Director Dr. Susanne Dietzel.
“As we take back the night today, we need to remind ourselves what this is about … creating a world for women and girls where they can walk undisturbed, and where they are in control of their bodies and their sexuality,” she said.
An estimated 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college years, and 85 to 90 percent of college women who are raped know their attacker, according to the National Institute of Justice. Otherwise known as “acquaintance rape,” about half of these sexual assaults occur while on a date or at a party.
The topic of alcohol and its effects on rape were widely discussed by the keynote speakers, Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder, two best friends who were brought together in college through an encounter with sexual assault.
“More than 75 percent of campus crimes involve alcohol,” said Addington. “Consent cannot be given unless you’re sober.”
The pair, who have been featured on Dateline NBC, CNN and National Public Radio, are the founders of One Student, an organization that promotes their belief that one sexual assault is too many and that one student can make a difference.
The joint address began with the speakers urging students to become empowered by leaving antiquated stereotypes behind and embracing their own sexuality.
“If we want to be sexually empowered, one of the first things we have to do is break out of that gender box,” said Tieder. “We firmly believe that sexual empowerment is how we’re going to end sexual violence.”
She continued, “Being sexually empowered means you’re confident in who you are and what you stand for, you know what your values are, and you can rock them in any scenario.”
Addington then shared her personal story of experiencing sexual assault as a college student. Her goal in sharing the story, she said, was to encourage other students to stand up and speak out.
Addington stressed the importance of having a close friend who listened and who was able to point her in the right direction so that she could eventually begin the healing process.
“My question to you is, what are you going to do to make the nightmares stop?” she asked.
Jacob Chaffin, a junior, voiced his concerns regarding men and sexual assault. “I think one of the problems is that men don’t consider their role in sexual assault, even though that’s the actual problem. Education is absolutely the first step, but action is the key to it, and I’d encourage more men to show up to events like Take Back the Night,” he said.
Derrick Thomas, a sophomore who attended the event, said, “I think a big problem is that men typically see these things as women’s issues- like rape, abortion and reproductive rights. But men are pretty much the problem and we need to do our part in owning up to it.”
Dietzel also communicated the importance of the male role.
“Together, we need to break the silence that makes all of us complicit in the culture of violence and that allows perpetrators to continue violating women, violating men and violating children,” she said.