Last night, I attended the Take Back the Night rally held on Penn State’s campus and at a few locations in downtown State College. I had never been to one of these events before, even though I had certainly heard about them (they’ve been going on all over the world since the 1970s). But with everything that has gone on in the last year, from the child sexual abuse scandal to the report that three rapes downtown had been linked to the same person by DNA, it seemed like an especially appropriate year to attend.
Take Back the Night is an international initiative that encourages survivors of sexual and domestic abuse and their supporters to come together to share their stories, be there for each other emotionally and raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse – a sexual assault happens every two minutes in America.
As the event progressed, the group moved from the Penn State Library, to Penn State residence halls, to Fraternity Row, and finally to Sidney Friedman Park for a candlelight vigil honoring those who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence. At each stop, people came forward with stories of how sexual assault and domestic violence have affected them or someone close to them. The stories often brought those telling them, and those listening, to tears.
It’s too bad more people weren’t there, because I think it’s an event everyone could benefit from attending. It’s easy to ignore a problem like sexual assault from a distance, but when people who have been affected by it are standing in front of you talking about how it has impacted their lives or the lives of those close to them, it’s impossible not to want to do everything you can to stop the violence and help the people (men, women and children) who have been innocent victims of it. It was an a very moving experience and I would encourage everyone to attend next year’s Take Back the Night.
For more information about the event, check out The Daily Collegian’s article about it, or go to takebackthenight.org. And consider helping out a local nonprofit organization that assists those affected by abuse, such as the Centre County Women’s Resource Center or the Youth Service Bureau, both of which have endowment funds with CCCF.