Take Back the Night inspires courage

Silence is powerful.  Speaking up in the midst of silence is what brings a difference. 

Take Back the Night honored Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Thursday to reach out to Sonoma State students on the issues of sexual assault and empower those to let their voices be heard.  

“I felt the event was awe inspiring,” said sophomore Devin Beard. “I always knew how many people were affected by sexual assault but I never knew it was the person sitting next to me.  It made me fully realize the intensity on such a more personal level.” 

Coming into the event, people were welcomed with a glow in the dark bracelet that read “Take Back the Night” along with live music softly playing in the background.

After representatives from Verity and the Counseling and Psychological Services spoke, the room was completely silent and open for anyone to come share any personal story they pleased. 

“I couldn’t believe how many people stood up to share their story with a crowd full of strangers,” said senior Maddie Lewis. “It made me think about how many people I’ve met, seemingly ordinary people, who have been affected by sexual assault.”

What Verity emphasized was how this event empowered others.  Once people stood up tall in front of the crowd, their personal stories not only empowered them but brought more awareness to how many people this issue has affected. 

When mass amounts of people in the audience shared their personal life experiences it tore at listeners’ heartstrings to hear how often these issues actually happen to students of Sonoma State. 

Laura Williams, staff psychologist from CAPS, spoke about how CAPS is here for SSU students to provide support in any problem they might be having, big or small.  She talked about how all types of sexual assault impact souls, body, mind and spirit, which make people emotionally numb.  

Verity representatives then tackled the idea that people believe the victim can control what happens to them and how the victims tend to blame themselves.  They made it clear that the only person to blame is the attacker. 

Vagina Monologues performers came to feature “My Short Skirt” to emphasize that what someone chooses to wear, such as a sexually provocative outfit, does not give people the right to sexually assault or rape someone in any way.  No matter how short the skirt, that is no legal reason to rape, even though it has been in the past. 

The first Take Back the Night was held in 1978 in San Francisco to stand up for violence against women but mainly sexual assault.  The walk was symbolical for women to take back their community and be able to go out after dark and be safe.

Sonoma State has continued this event throughout the years.  Together they did a candlelight march around campus to signify awareness against sexual assault and encourage a decrease of theses issues in the community. 

The complete silence brought respect to the tragedies but also some awkwardness among the audience. Each person who stood up took a deep breath of courage to share with the rest of the audience his or her personal tragedies. 

As one person after another stood up, this eye-opening experience brought to light how many people we pass day-to-day suffer from these issues.  People took advantage of the opportunity to talk about their personal issues with sexual assault because in our society, there is never a right time to talk. 

The work and time that CAPS, Verity and Vagina Monologues dedicates to the issue of sexual awareness is mainly to prevent it, if not end the issue all together.  Just remember sex is best with consent.  Our bodies belong to ourselves and we each have our own right to do or not to do with them.  No one has the right to tell you or force you to do anything you do not please.  It is your body and your choice. 

For anyone who needs support, call CAPS on-campus at (707) 664-2153, call Verity 24-hour crisis hotline at (707) 545-7273, or call Sonoma County Crisis Line at (707) 576-8181.  Don’t be afraid to talk to someone because you are not alone.