Take Back the Night

Trigger Warning: this article contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

I had the privilege of listening to the stories of the strongest people I know at UC Davis.

Take Back the Night is an event hosted by UC Davis’ CARE (Center for Advocacy, Resources, & Education). The event is designed for survivors of sexual assault to come back together and essentially take back the night.

Since it’s my first year as a transfer student here, I’ve had a hard time finding a place where I belong within the many communities here at UC Davis. One of my friends, who was involved with CARE before he graduated, invited me to Take Back the Night. He told me it was a space for people to come together and support one another. Intrigued, I decided to go with him without any prior knowledge as to how Take Back the Night usually is.

When I entered the room, I was greeted by many individuals who were surrounded by paintings made by CARE. The paintings depicted images and words of positive affirmations that we could later take home to have as a souvenir. Unbeknownst to me, we also had the pleasure of listening to the keynote speaker who advocated that the healing process is long and hard but worth the strength and exhaustion it takes to be fully healed.

But what really stuck with me was the student speakers. Some of which who I recognized from previous classes of 200 students. Each student wrote a personalized performance of them taking back the night that changed their lives forever. I was overwhelmed yet felt so at peace to hear these stories from these survivors who had the courage to even write down what had happened to them and to share it with a room full of people. But the audience fully supported each performer with love, warmth, and support.

It was heavy as it was my first time coming to terms with the fact that rape and sexual assault does indeed happen to people, more often than we anticipate. We have a mainstream definition of sexual assault and that is a stranger will suddenly grab you and you’re expected to scream and yell and fight for your life. But the thing is, the mainstream definition doesn’t even cover the majority of what the survivors of such terrible things go through. It’s the face of someone we know, our friend, a classmate, or even a neighbor. They take advantage of the kindness and love you exhibit towards them and before you can even think to fight, it happens within the blink of a second.

But the recurring theme of Take Back the Night, among the most courageous and beautiful people in one small room, is that we are survivors. We are not victims. To elaborate how hard it is to even admit to yourself that you’re a survivor doesn’t cover the difficulty it takes. But no matter what, we are healing, every step of the way we are. We are not just a statistic added to the consensus of sexual assaults happening on college campuses. We are people and survivors who have a story. Will you listen?

More information about CARE @ UC Davis can be found here.