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Take Back the Night

 

 

Article and photos by Gabi Morris

Monday, April 23, at 6 pm, a rally took place at the stallions statue, and steadily made it’s way to the LBJ Student Center. This rally was called Take Back the Night. Take Back the Night is for Texas State University students to speak, and let their voices be heard about putting an end to sexual violence. The point of Take Back the Night is to promote, and provide a safe community from all types of sexual violence.

Juan Perez, Freshman political science major, participating in the Take Back the Night March. Photograph by Gabi Morris.

According to the student health center website, the first Take Back the Night rally took place in April, 2015. However, the history of the Take Back the Night rally dates all the way back to the 1970’s. The student health center says that it was one of first protests against sexual assault. But when the numbers of violence rose, so did the rallies. 48 years later, the message has stayed the same: let’s put an end to sexual violence.

The event started when the Men Against Violence organization showed up with a large banner that said “TAKE BACK THE NIGHT! #SURVIVOR STRONG.” Nick Rambeau, president of Men Against Violence, started the event by explaining to the audience what they were there to fight for: to end sexual violence.

Juan Perez, freshman political science major, was upbeat and brought an energetic vibe with him.

This was the first time that Perez had participated in Take Back the Night, and he was more than happy to advocate for the cause, and speak his mind.

“I feel like, we as individuals, play a crucial role in sexual violence culture. As a male, I feel I’m more able to stand out in the event that not many men can say that they’ve been a victim of sexual violence,” said Perez. “People need to know it happens to men too, and it’s not something exclusive to women. Yeah, we’re here for women, but people need to know that we’re here for everyone, not just women.”

Once the event started rising in numbers, the group started chanting loud and proud. Some of the chants included “STOP THE VIOLENCE, STOP THE SILENCE,” and “SAY IT LOUD, SAY IT CLEAR. SEXUAL VIOLENCE NOT WELCOMED HERE.”

Ebony Stewart, three-time slam poet champion in Austin, beginning the spoken word portion of the event with a poem of her own. Photograph by Gabi Morris.

Once the momentum started picking up, the march started. The march started from the stallions statue, through the quad, turned to walk around the other side of the Evans building and everyone made their way to the LBJ Amphitheater. There, Ebony Stewart, three-time slam poet champion in Austin, met up with the event to begin hosting the spoken word portion of the evening. Stewart began the spoken word portion by performing two of her own personal and emotional poems. Following Stewart, 11 registered students performed poetry of their own.

One of the performers being Katie Super, senior international studies major. Katie spoke out about her traumatic sexual assault experience during the event, and anyone who was there could tell that the crowd was moved by her story.

Super had participated three years prior to this years Take Back the Night event, but chose to speak out again this year. Super expressed that while it was hard, she was glad she spoke at the event.

“It’s kinda difficult cause it feels like you’re reliving it when you’re talking about it, and it takes a lot to get out of that mindset,” said Super.

Katie Super, Senior international studies major, speaking about her sexual assault experience. Photograph by Gabi Morris.

When asked why she participated, Supers demeanor became noticeably more positive.

“It’s pretty awesome, and it kinda gives you validation whenever you get out there, and talk about what happened, and so that’s kinda like what I wanted to do,” said Super. “I thought maybe I could like help someone with my story.”

At the end, Stewart opened the stage up to anyone who had not registered to perform, but had decided last minute that they wanted their voice to be heard.

After the event, Stewart had a few words of encouragement for sexual assault survivors who may not be ready to share their story yet.

“Be gentle with yourself. Find your people. Get counseling. There’s counseling on campus. Maybe you could just write. You don’t always have to share. Maybe if you just write out your thoughts or talk to someone,” Stewart said. But the most heartwarming thing she said was, “let people love you, and your existence is necessary.”

Just before the end of the interview, Stewart explained why events like Take Back the Night are so important.

Men Against Violence, and student supporters march through campus to advocate for an end to sexual assault. Photograph by Gabi Morris.

“So many people feel alone. So many people don’t know that they are experiencing some of the same things, and they just need an opportunity to speak their truth, and to be heard and seen,” said Stewart. “I think it’s also really important to bring these things to light that we can help possibly, if able to stop and eliminate these types of assault.”

Overall, Take Back the Night was a powerful, moving and supportive event for all who attended. The event was organized by Men Against Violence, a peer education group on campus. Even though it is the end of the academic year, if you’re interested in being involved in Take Back the Night for next year, join the Men Against Violence group this upcoming fall semester, and maybe it could be you could coordinating the event next spring. Men Against Violence meets every Monday at 5 p.m. in room 202 of the Student Health Center.

 

Audio Stories by Charity Valverde

Ebony Stewart gives compelling slam poetry on issues regarding power freedom equality woman rights, and sexual violence.

 

There were several speakers who delivered incredibly heartfelt speeches, amongst them was Derek Miller.

Photo Gallery by Gabi Morris

 

Video story by Lesly De Leon.

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