Take Back the Night helps victims of violence speak out
As more than 100 students, faculty and staff marched through campus with candles and picket signs in their hands, chants of “No more silence! No more violence!” could be heard.
Students marched from Plaza del Sol to the Women’s Research and Resource Center as part of the tenth annual Take Back the Night event which aims to raise awareness about violence against women.
According to an annual crime awareness and security report from CSUN’s police department, two reports of rape happened in 2009 and four reports in 2010 on campus. The Project D.A.T.E. organization said in 2012 the university police received 12 reports of rape and three sexual assaults.
Shira Brown, director of the women’s resource center and gender women’s studies professor, said the event is an opportunity for the campus community to publicly confront violence against women and it is important to have this event on any college campus.
“There is a higher rate of violence and sexual assault on college campuses and I think it is really important that we acknowledge that and take a stand,” she said. “We need to inform the members of the community to do what we need to do to make sure people are protected.”
She added that there is an important lesson young men can learn.
“It’s unfortunate that everyone knows the statistic that on a college campus one of three women are going to be sexually assaulted in some way,” Brown said. “We need to figure out whatever the solution is to not teach our girls how not to get raped, but teach our boys how not to rape.”
Brown said preparation for Take Back the Night started in December and the gender women’s studies department, The F Word club, Interfraternity Council, Gamma Rho Lambda and Lambda Sigma Gamma co-sponsored the event.
President Dianne Harrison spoke at the event and there were special performances by Natalia Zukerman, Yazmine Watkins and VDAY Vagina Monologues as well as speeches from organizations on campus.
Harrison said for nearly 30 years this event has taken place nationally and allows survivors of violence to break their silence.
“(The event is) for students, but also staff and faculty so that as a campus community we can become more aware of the need to be safe and take care of each other,” she said. “I think our students sometimes forget this is really a large campus and we are doing the best we can and we need to do whatever we can to make sure it is a safe campus where violence is not tolerated.”
Attendees also participated in the Clothesline Project by putting a statement or comment on t-shirts to publicly give a voice to something often kept silent. The shirts were color coded to represent a different type of violence. Red, pink and orange represented the survivors of rape and sexual assault, while black represented women attacked for political reasons.
After creating the shirts people would hang them on the clothes line as a way to say the participants were airing their dirty laundry.
Diontay Odom, 23, a senior deaf studies major, wrote “Don’t be afraid to speak up, Jesus heals,” on a black shirt with red sleeves.
“I wrote that because a lot of people after they’ve been abused don’t want to speak up and tell others their testimony and once Jesus heals people they should be able to speak up so others going through it don’t have to be alone,” Odom said.
Odom said this was a great event and provided an environment where people can get more information and learn how to deal with situations involving violence.
“It is important for people to speak up for people who cannot speak up for themselves,” he said.
There was also a bra drive where new or gently used bras were donated to organizations that would send them to several domestic violence shelters for women. There were also testimonials where victims of violence could speak in a safe environment.
Oscar Sermeno, 23, senior psychology major and member of Project D.A.T.E., said the testimonies was his highlight of the event because it was something he had never experienced.
“I wanted to just go up there and give them a voice, because they are able to confide in me the traumatic experiences in their lives,” he said.
Sermeno also said sexual assault happens to both genders and one of the people who spoke was a man who was raped by a group of men
Brown said there are resources available on and off campus and majority are free of charge,the ones on campus are free and victims of violence should know there is a ton of support out there and the Women’s Center is a place for that because they are a great supportive community with a great group of volunteers ready to support anybody.
“There are a lot of places where (individuals) can get one-on-one support, group support or the type of support you need because there is no need to suffer by holding on to or keeping silent
For further information students should contact the Women’s Research and Resource Center at (818) 677-2780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.