Take Back the Night, a march that brings awareness to the issue of sexual violence that happens while walking in public areas at night, took place on April 13.
The annual march was set to take place in Perry Square, but due to the rain was moved to Gannon University’s Hammermill Center.
While the rain may have put a damper on the effect of stopping at landmarks throughout the march, the supporters and speakers were flexible and accommodating.
All of the participants “marched” around the Hammermill, hearing the speakers along the way and ending in the Yehl Ballroom for snacks, refreshments and to share their personal experiences of sexual violence, opening up the door to “end the silence.”
Approximately 300 committee members, community partners, administration and students participated in the event that gives those who have been a victim of violence and those who oppose it to come together and support one another.
“The most poignant part of the evening was the vignette performed by three Gannon students based on a true account of a student’s assault here at GU,” said Katie Allison, Gannon’s Violence Prevention/Education Coordinator, who became involved in Take Back the Night first as a keynote speaker in 2012, and has since taken on the responsibility of running the event.
“It is something that I feel passionate about — especially when students often contact me following the event to schedule training for their group, to obtain more information or to share their thoughts.”
Take Back the Night hopes to bring awareness to all types of sexual violence. The organization got its start in the early 20th century, protesting the unsafe streets of post-World War II Europe.
It took root in America in 1973 while protesting the pornography business in San Francisco and serial murders of women of color in Los Angeles.
Since the 1970s Take Back the Night has focused on eliminating sexual and domestic violence in all forms. Gannon is one of thousands of colleges, domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers to hold this event.
“I think that dating violence is a very serious problem for people my age; we’re still young and naive,” said Mary Kate Carroll, a junior occupational therapy major.
Carroll believes that a prevailing problem in our young community it that so many are willing to accept abuse under the guise of “love” and affection.
“So any event that allows victims to share their stories, I’m 100 percent supportive,” Carroll said.
For those who could not attend the event, the Take Back the Night official website, takebackthenight.org, shares many of the stories of those who have been a victim of sexual violence and have been brave enough to step forward and share their experiences.
The event was free and open to anyone who wished to attend. Gannon’s Center for Social Concerns sponsored, as well as SAVE: Students Against Violence Everywhere, Erie GAINS: Erie-Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability, the Crime Victim Center of Erie County, SafeNet and many others.
The event ended on a positive note with lyrics such as, “I can see a world where we all live, safe and free from all oppression.”