April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. HC Scranton had the opportunity to participate in the 29thAnnual Take Back The Night held by The University of Scranton’s Jane Kopas Women’s Center. Take Back The Night is an international event that aims to end all forms of sexual, interpersonal and gender-based violence through awareness, empowerment and advocacy. The event includes three parts: a pre-rally, a march, and a “speak out.”
Every year the event has a different theme. This year’s theme is super empowering and delivers an important message. Inspired by the lotus flower, the theme this year is thatlike a lotus flower, we have the ability to rise from the mud and bloom out from the darkness and radiate into the world. It’s about empowering survivors to share their experiences and reminding them that they are supported by their community. They can use their voices and share their experiences and bloom out from the darkness like a lotus flower. The lotus flower’s petals embody unity. This event is bringing survivors and advocates together as communicate to speak out.
At HC Scranton’s table, we had a lotus flower that’s petals were empty on our board. We had white paint and each person that participated put their fingerprint in the flower as an individual petal. Each of these “petals” or fingerprints filled the flower. The end result was a beautiful, powerful visual that showed how in unity there is strength. Just like the petals and the fingerprints of the flower we created our voices can join together and will be heard loud and clear.
This year’s theme speaks a lot to the importance and message of the Me-Too movement in that it is so important to have survivors be able to share their stories, and have people rally behind them in support and listen. Historically, survivors have been silenced and blown off. Victims of this violence have been too afraid to speak out because of a toxic culture of victim blaming and shaming. After years of brave survivors not letting their voices be silenced, and movements like Time’s Up and Me-Too, victim blaming and silencing are not being tolerated anymore. Events like this empower survivors and advocates to come together and make their voices heard.
Another major initiative of the event this year is The Clothesline Project. The Jane Kopas Women’s Center described it in a post on Instagram as “a visual display which serves as a means of expression for individuals affected by violence, particularly sexual, gender based, and interpersonal violence, to share their story on a personalized t-shirt.” This further empowers survivors to share their stories, in a more anonymous way. The theme of rising from darkness and blooming and radiating like a flower is extremely powerful. I think the empowerment created by this concept is super powerful too. Everyone at the event came together to support each other and empower each other to use their voices together to end sexual, gender based, and interpersonal violence. Everyone is powerful on their own, but unified, combined voices make sure the message and stories were heard loud and clear.