Reclaiming the night
Take Back the Night Rally to take place for 37th year
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Many victims of domestic violence think they are the only ones who feel pain and are affected by their attackers, according to Ashera Buhite, a senior global gender studies major. They have trouble coming out of their shells and, as a result, isolate themselves from the world.
UB is taking steps to help these victims speak out and open up. This year’s Take Back the Night Rally will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Student Union as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The rally started in 1975 for citizens to voice their frustrations over crimes against women and start a movement for change.
“[Take Back the Night] is a space for people to reclaim the places that are denied to them,” Buhite said. “Especially women, we are told to stay away from certain places at night, so we come out, make a lot of noise and make it known we don’t want to feel unsafe in any place, ever.”
Domestic Violence Awareness Month has evolved into a stand against all types of sexual violence. At least one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, forced into sex or abused in her lifetime by a partner, friend or stranger, according to takebackthenight.org.
This is the 37th year the Take Back the Night Rally is taking place nationwide, according to uncgcarolinian.com. Aaron Maracle, assistant director of SBI Health Education,said the event becomes larger every year. He expects there to be at least 200 students marching through North Campus this year.
The event will kick off with keynote speaker Grace Brown in the union. Brown has started a photography project called Project Unbreakable, through which survivors of a sexually violent crime write down something the attacker said and take a picture with it. These photos are then displayed on Brown’s website.
She and Buhite aim to promote awareness.
“It dismantles the stories we hear about sexual violence, about who is affected and why it’s really important work,” Buhite said. “We could broaden what the sexual violent culture means, and that’s really useful so we could break it down and focus in the right places.”
Maracle believes Brown’s project has encouraged more men to speak out as victims of some form of sexual violence, too. One in six men will be sexually assaulted in his lifetime, according to 1in6.org. Maracle believes it is important for men to know their stories matter.
Maracle founded the UB Men’s group in 2006 while he was an undergraduate student at UB. The group is a rape and sexual assault prevention program that strives to recruit men as allies against sexual violence. Now Maracle works to provide a safe environment for survivors of abuse. He educates others on how to do the same.
“If someone does disclose to you, you have to listen, support and believe; the number one thing is to believe,” Maracle said. “Because how the first person they tell reacts will affect who else they tell. If that number one person doesn’t believe them, they most likely won’t tell anyone else.”
The rally has been held on South Campus in past years. The crowd would loudly march down Main Street at night. Buhite recalls people leaving the bars, wondering what the marching was about and asking about domestic violence.
She expects this year’s event to be a stepping-stone in the healing process for many survivors.
“I know this event makes [victims] come out of their shell in a way and feel connected and step up,” Buhite said. “Then that starts a chain of comfort in which anyone could speak out against their attacker.”
The Royal Pitches, the female a cappella group at UB, wrote and prepared a song specifically for the rally. Buhite said it is sure to be inspiring and tear jerking.
Buhite believes everybody needs to take a stand of support in order to stop sexual violence.
“It is our compassion that will destroy the structures that make sexual violence so prominent in our lives and lead us into a brighter future,” Buhite said. “Each of us has the power to help, to notice and care about what is happening in the world around and break the cycle.”