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Taking Back the Night: Celebrating Survivors

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Augustana chapter.

CW: Mentions of Sexual Assault and Harassment

To raise our voices in solidarity, even when it’s hard is true strength.   

According to rainn.org,  Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Every nine minutes, that victim is a child.  Despite this, only 25 of 1,000 perpetrators will end up facing prison time for their crimes.

( https://www.rainn.org/)

For the past 3 years, I have taken part in Augustana college’s Take Back the Night Rally. This event has been held annually during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  As someone who has had friends and family have uncomfortable experiences with stalking, abuse, sexual assault, harassment, some of which have also happened to myself this movement hits home. I feel in a lot of situations, we tend to minimize our own pain when it comes to this topic. Society is quick to blame victims and overthinking runs rampant. We all heal and process trauma differently and this event aims to allow all participants, survivors or not, to feel all the emotions that come, in a room full of support.  While only an hour, it is an hour of empowerment, resources, snacks and speakers.   Sarah Kingston, current President of Augustana’s Take Back the Night chapter, worked incredibly hard raising the chapter from the ground up and logistically putting the group and this event together. To be able to work with her together in the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Education (OSAPE), I have learned so much and look up to her immensely.  When it comes to activism and raising awareness, it always helps to have a friend or mentor to help you on your quest. 

The previous year at the rally, I read a piece I wrote titled “ I’m Still a Woman” which focused on connecting with my feminist identity.  Calling out my strength and resilience and the resilience of all women in the patriarchal society we live in. It’s so hard for me to share my work, especially at an event that is mentally hard to attend. These topics are not to be taken lightly after all. I was incredibly proud of two speakers from our chapter who were willing to share poems just as I did at last year’s rally.  What I love about Take Back the Night is that the students bring life to this advocacy opportunity.  The stories and connections made are powerful and even long the rally ends I find myself wanting to work harder in my activism.

Time and time again, this event proves the need to listen to survivors and their stories.  To educate the public when it comes to prevention and safe and consensual sexual encounters.  To give voice to the students and community members who survived and have told no one. For those who finally spoke out about their trauma publicly. For those who are in all stages of learning or healing.

This is more than depressing statistics, this is community.

 Coming together, walking the Quad, chanting, making posters, having a candlelight vigil.  From speakers that ranged from the campus chaplain, to students sharing poetry and art.  There was power felt throughout that room. Proving the collective campus pulls through when it matters most, reminding us that we aren’t alone in our struggles. 

Never give up your fight!
Take back your night!

Janey Locander is a Junior at Augustana College who is currently studying WGSS, Psychology, and Creative Writing. She has a passion for not only reading and writing, but also photography, volunteering, and squishmallow collecting to name a few. She has worked with many publications and programs across the Quad Cities such as the Midwest Writing Center's YEW internship , Love Girls Magazine, and so much more.