Approximately 200 people gathered in front of the Women’s Research Center to “Take Back the Night” by speaking up about sexual violence and reclaiming their lives.
The event, which included a variety of guest speakers, began at Plaza del Sol in the University Student Union (USU). Sheena Malhotra, chair of Gender and Women Studies Department started off the night.
“We are here today to be a part of the healing,” Malhotra said. “We are here to celebrate the fact that we are all survivors. We have to do no less than reclaim our streets, our homes and our lives.”
Attendees, which included women and men, had the opportunity to paint picket signs and T-shirts that where hung on a clothesline at Plaza del Sol. Some of the shirts read, “Speak up, silence kills,” and a shirt with blue and purple painted blobs read, “This was my face, never again.”
The crowd later marched about a mile to the Women’s Research Center on Halsted Street where people shared their stories.
Guest speaker Yazmin Watkins, a spoken word artist, read three poems throughout the night.
Members of the Blues Project also read a poem and were followed by a short skit from V-Day’s “Vagina Monologues.”
Bamby Salcedo, project coordinator for the Transgender Harm Reduction Project with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, continued the event with a speech in English and Spanish about her transgender female experiences with violence.
“We don’t need to have a vagina for us to let you know that we are also women,” Salcedo said. “We as a community, and as women, go through the same issues. We also go through sexual abuse, we also get raped.”
Also at the event was West Hollywood Councilmember Lindsey Horvath who said her number one priority is to make sure “safety exist for everyone.”
“Twenty percent of female college students answered yes when they were asked if they were forced to submit to sexual abuse against their will,” Horvath said. “This is unacceptable on college campuses. It is unacceptable for women to feel unsafe in the place where they are trying to learn.”
This was psychology major Rosa Gudial’s first time attending “Take Back the Night.”
“I read about the event in the Daily Sundial and something told me to come, so I’m here,” Gudial, 23, said. “It’s all about togetherness and that’s what I like, together to stop violence. It needs to be talked about more.”
During up and coming rock group Prohibition Rose’s performance, candles were distributed and lit.
“We had 145 candles and they were all gone and more people came afterwards,” said Shira Brown, director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center.
Afterwards, almost 20 men and women shared their stories, which varied from date rape, incest, verbal abuse, to physical abuse.
“We love you, we support you” shouted the audience when victims would get emotional or start to blame themselves.
Dorian Adams-Wilson, 25, a senior and gender and women studies major helped coordinate the event and described the outcome as “amazing.”
“It was very open and colorful and diverse and fresh,” Adams-Wilson said. “We’ve been preparing for this since October 2009.”
Brown was also very pleased with the outcome.
“I think it was a huge success. I think that we had some really courageous men and women get up to speak and I’m empowered by them all and their stories,” Brown said. “I really feel rejuvenated and like I’m ready to do the next thing. I’m hoping that this fuels the fire that’s within everybody to make change and do whatever it is they need to do to heal and to find their future, whatever it is.”