The University of North Florida Women’s Center and Alpha Chi Omega women’s fraternity will observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month with the 10th annual “Take Back the Night” march and candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, on Osprey Plaza, Student Union, Building 58. [Read more…] about UNF Hosts Annual ‘Take Back the Night’ March/Candlelight Vigil
Take Back The Night
Empowering event to focus on sexual assault prevention, victim support
On Wednesday, April 11 Katie Koestner, founder and executive director of the Take Back the Night Foundation will present the keynote address at an event designed to empower victims and help end sexual violence and harassment. Stetson University’s Take Back the Night event will begin with Koestner’s talk at 8 p.m. in McMahan Hall, 417 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, 32723. Following the address, attendees will move to Stetson’s Palm Court for a speak out, rally and candlelight moment of reflection. The event is free and open to the public.
“The theme of this year’s Take Back the Night event is ‘Shatter the Silence, End the Violence,’” said Cathy Downes, Stetson University’s executive director and Title IX coordinator. “Our hope is that attendees will feel empowered to speak up and to step up to change the current culture.”
During the speak out individuals will be invited to share words of encouragement or support for victims, a relevant poem or personal experience as a person affected by sexual assault or harassment. The evening will close with a candlelit vigil and moment of quiet reflection for those affected.
The event is part of a campus-wide initiative to empower victims and end sexual violence. In the days leading up to the Take Back the Night event student groups including PACT (Peer Advisory Council for Title IX), SASA (Students Against Sexual Assault), NOW (National Organization for Women), WELL team (Wellness Educators for Lifelong Learning) will ask the community to make signs of support, sign a pledge to end sexual violence and provide general knowledge about sexual violence prevention, reporting and intervention.
Koestner is also president of Campus Outreach Services, a national organization dedicated to developing research-supported curricula, model policies and outstanding educational programs for schools on student risk issues. She has provided keynote speeches and programs for more than 2,000 schools across the country to raise awareness about the prevention and response to sexual and technology-related misconduct. She is the co-author of two books on sexual assault policy and procedures for schools and the creator of “Responding to Sexual Misconduct: A Customizable Training Manual for Schools.” She is credited with convincing the world you could be raped by your date. Koestner’s speaking career began at age 18 shortly after her own personal experience. Her dedication and vision have been the source of program development and policy change on both community and national levels.
Flagler College’s ‘Take Back the Night’ group
Nearly 150 Flagler College students clutching candles and posters while chanting “People Unite Take Back the Night” marched against sexual assault Thursday night, as part of the school’s third annual “Take Back the Night” event. Held on campuses throughout the world, the event raises awareness of and calls for an end to sexual violence of all forms.
“Sexual assault happens whether people believe it or not,” said Colleen Turkiewicz, student chairperson for the event. “By coming, people are increasing their awareness for sexual assault and standing up against it. Take Back the Night is where everyone can come together and stand up for themselves and say that they will no longer be victims, but survivors.”
Turkiewicz was one of the many Flagler students participating in the night’s events, from writing inspirational letters to other survivors and handing out teal beads for all attendees to wear, to painting students’ handprints on a board to take an empowering stand against sexual assault. The college’s counseling center and the local domestic violence support organization Betty Griffin House were also available for support.
“Take Back the Night symbolizes a commitment to end sexual assault,” Betty Griffin volunteer Katelin Maloney told the crowd in the college’s Virginia Room. “Everyone needs to be involved in this prevalent issue. But this night, this full room gives me hope that young people on campuses can be safe. Just remember you survived, and that makes you a survivor.”
A “Special Victims” unit detective from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office noted ways in which people can prevent sexual assault from happening, including being aware of one’s surroundings, paying attention to others, and monitoring one’s social media accounts. After the event’s guests spoke, the students and staff members shared their flames from candle-to-candle in a ceremony to create a supportive community as they “took back the night.”
Students then headed to the streets — specifically down King Street, to Cordova and Valencia Streets and back around to Sevilla Street — chanting “No means no!” and “Yes means yes!”
“We want students to take away empowerment and a call to action after this event,” said Michelle Holland, event facilitator and director of Residence Life. “It is an event to raise awareness, and at the same time we want those who attend to think about what they can do to make our campus safer for everyone.”
According to the non-profit organization Take Back the Night, the foundation serves to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives. They seek to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence. One in three women and one in six men worldwide experience some form of sexual violence. Less than 50 percent of victims report these crimes.
To end the night, students gathered outside the school’s Ringhaver Student Center to sing Kari Kimmel’s “Where You Belong,” and to blow out their candles as one. Flagler’s “Take Back the Night” was co-sponsored by the Career Development Center, Residence Life, Alpha Delta Kappa, Campus Activities Board, Flagler Softball, Flagler Dance Club and Glee Club.
The University of North Florida’s Women’s Center will host a day of annual events in solidarity of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. These events aim to unite the community to take a stand against interpersonal violence/abuse and to honor and remember those who have survived as well as those who lost their lives.
The “Walk in a Woman’s Shoes” event will take place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, on the UNF Green, in front of the Fine Arts Center, Building 45. An awareness fair will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Osprey Plaza in front of the Student Union, Building 58. The “Take Back the Night” march will begin 7:30 p.m. at Osprey Crossings Courtyard (Buildings Q-S) and move to Osprey Plaza.
“These events initiates a conversation about a topic that often goes undiscussed,” said Brandi Winfrey, Women’s Center coordinator. “We want the community to become comfortable discussing sexual assault and interpersonal violence.”
The “Walk in a Woman’s Shoes” event will focus on figuratively walking in the shoes of a sexual assault survivor. Various exhibits will be setup, including a “Sole Survivors’” tent, which will display men, women and children’s shoes with sexual assault facts for each population. Additionally, there will be a “Clothesline Project” to decorate shirts that serve as a physical representation to honor or remember those who have been affected by sexual violence. Teal ribbons, T-shirts and light snacks will be provided.
Members of the University community will lead the “Take Back the Night” march, representing the solidarity of women and men who aren’t afraid to stand up and speak out against violence. The candlelight vigil as well as survivor speak-out will conclude the event in Osprey Plaza by honoring victims and survivors of intimate partner violence.
“Take Back the Night” events have been held by colleges and communities around the globe for more than 40 years and provide an opportunity for women to break the silence of abuse and victimization, bringing people together to stand in unity against interpersonal violence in their communities.
These events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the UNF Women’s Center at (904) 620-2528 or at [email protected].
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.