Supporters of Take Back the Night rallied together for survivors of sexual assault, violence and rape Thursday by marching through the streets of Athens.
Take Back the Night is a nationwide movement working towards sexual education, safety and empowerment. The movement at Ohio University, in its 38th year of existence, consists of a week-long series of events made possible through the Women’s Affairs Commission of Student Senate.
“This event has been treated as a protest against violence women experience when walking home at night,” said Abby Burks, a senator on the Women’s Affairs Commission of Student Senate. “The word ‘night’ has become a symbol for the fear of violence in general. Rape culture is still very prevalent today, especially on college campuses.”
The rally, which was a part of a week of events, began in Baker Center with speeches from students and community members.
Among those who spoke were Jan Griesinger, one of the founders of the Ohio University Take Back the Night Movement in 1979, who emphasized the importance of preventing sexual assault through quotes from the song “Fight Back” by Holly Near.
She quoted, “By day I live in terror, by night I live in fright, for as long as I can remember, a lady don’t go out at night, no no a lady don’t go out at night…and so we’ve got to fight back, in large numbers, fight back, I can’t make it alone, fight back in large numbers, together we can make a safe home.”
Sasha Gough, a junior, spoke on the importance of intersectionality in feminism. She discussed the importance of inclusion within the movement.
“People can talk and talk all they want about how they understand intersectionality, or what it means to be intersectional, but putting (intersectionality) into practice is more important,” Gough said
She continued with a story of a white cisgender male who could not find a job, and then began to explain how receiving a job is even harder for women, minorities and LGBTQIA people. Gough also said someone with less privilege complaining about the oppressive system is not a direct attack on someone else, and that privilege can instead be used to fight back against oppression.
Abby Knupp, a journalism major and assistant resident director explained her experiences with sexual assault and how the Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP) helped her. Knupp took time in her speech to promote the positive effects of SAP and encouraged the audience members to add the program’s 24/7 hotline number, 740-597-SAFE, into their phones.
Afterwards, supporters took to the streets starting at Baker Student Center and down Court Street, turning right onto West State, and then right again onto College Street until finally making it back to Baker where the group disbanded.
Abby Cole, a senator on the Women’s Affairs Commission of Student Senate, said, “I think Take Back the Night is a good way for both survivors and people that have been impacted whether it’s through friends or a loved one to come together and to raise awareness that we still have a huge problem with rape culture and with sexual assault.”