by Kaitlyn Compari
Students banded together to show their support for victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse on Tuesday night through a march across campus.
Take Back the Night began as a protest against the fear of violence women felt at night. Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX) member junior Jackie Day said that Take Back the Night’s roots lie in California.
“It started in San Francisco with women who were protesting the murders of people who worked in the sex industry,” Day said. “They were taking back the night to ensure that everyone can walk safely through the night.”
VOX teamed up with the Gay-Straight Alliance and Trenton-based Womanspace, a nonprofit agency that offers services to women in crisis, for Rider’s third running of the annual event, to help ensure that women, and all students, feel safe at night. Junior Ellen Thompson, VOX president, said that the growth of the event and the support it’s receiving is inspiring.
“It’s so powerful to see a group of 80 students marching down the walkways of campus and showing that they’re going to take a stand, together as a unit,” Thompson said.
Womanspace coordinator Susan Adams, who attended the march, emphasized the magnitude of Take Back the Night at Rider.
“Sexual assault is so under-reported and hidden,” said Adams. “Everyone here is just starting out in their own lives. For the students to learn to protect themselves is very important.”
Adams, attendees and victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence spoke during Take Back the Night. Freshman Andi Carpe told her story of sexual abuse.
“I hope that Take Back the Night opened a lot of eyes to the horror of sexual abuse,” Carpe said.
She said she shared her story with the hope that it will empower other women.
“It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of people you don’t know and share your darkest secrets,” said Carpe. “When you hear someone’s story, you don’t feel as alone and isolated. I decided to share my story so that girls and women would be encouraged to tell theirs.”
Thompson said that when people like Carpe share their stories, it allows everyone, even those not affected by sexual abuse or domestic violence, to learn about this horror.
“It just goes to show that sexual violence affects everyone, and even if it doesn’t directly happen to you, every person in that room now knows someone that it has affected and can therefore be empowered to stop it,” Adams said.
Marilyn Quinn, VOX adviser, who has been closely involved with Take Back the Night for many years, said that the moving stories of victims are a big part of the event.
“The problem needs to be out from behind closed doors,” Quinn said. “Through Take Back the Night, women can speak out and get help.”
Thompson feels that everyone at the march was able to take away something meaningful from listening to their peers’ struggles and triumphs with abuse and violence.
“We all connected and forged a special bond,” said Thompson. “Anyone in that room last night will tell you they’ve been affected and changed by fellow students, their stories and the emotions and depth we saw.”
Quinn hopes that through the event, the night can be made safe again for women.
“Take Back the Night is held to give back the right of every woman to have control of her body,” she said.