A Recap of Take Back the Night

On Friday, April 21, Wesleyan students, faculty members, and community organizers banded together to take a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence. According to RAIIN, every ninety-eight seconds an American is sexually assaulted. During the gathering, students listened to Lori Thompson, Director of Counseling Services, and learned the Three D’s of bystander intervention: direct, delegate and distract. Direct can be an intimidating approach because it is very abrupt; however, it can prove to be one of the most effective if executed properly. A response like, “Hey, I am a little worried about you. Do you need a ride?” This offers the individual an immediate and safe exit without many questions. Delegate is intended to involve others in order to diffuse the situation and prepare for a safe departure. Lastly, distract is somewhat self-explanatory; provide a distraction for the instigator and create a safe way in which to rescue the other individual(s) from the interaction. For example, one might say, “Hey, I think your car is being towed!” A simple and sometimes comical response is most effective for this particular approach.

Following, the audience heard the heart wrenching experience of a sexual assault survivor. The raw and horrific truth was staggering, but it is important to understanding the importance of Take Back the Night. Jacob Sullivan, a sophomore at West Virginia Wesleyan College, reinforced this statement with a powerful quote: “This event is vital to each of us because we need to shine a light on the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence. We need to let survivors know that they are not alone and that they have a support system of allies that are available to help them get through the struggles they experience. It is also important to educate people of the warning signs that often indicate sexual assault because only then can we truly begin to prevent such terrible situations from occurring.” Some of the most common warning signs include, but are not limited to: excessive worry or fearfulness, self-harming behavior, unhealthy eating patterns, is reluctant to spend time with family or friends, failing grades, excessive drug and/or alcohol usage, physical signs of abuse, and many more. Take Back the Night encourages education, awareness, and advocacy so that one day, we may see a world without sexual assault and domestic violence situations.

Following, the attendees made a short loop around town with pink and purple glow sticks to help shine a light on such critical issues. Tabby Swanson, a Public Relations major, added that, “The walk was an amazing experience. Seeing my peers come together to stand against an issue that is so prevalent was empowering. I was honored to be involved in this amazing event.” Swanson is also a member of the WE LEAD Invisible Illness Team, which works to foster a nurturing environment for those struggling with illnesses people often neglect, especially mental health. However, these social change organizations were not the only ones involved with Take Back the Night. Greek Life also played an integral role as the predominate participatory group! Marching in solidarity as individual organizations and a collective student body, each sorority and fraternity advocated against sexual assault and domestic violence, which affects thousands of individuals across the country every year!

To conclude, Lori Thompson, Director of Counseling Services, shared the importance of Take Back the Night and community engagement with issues such as sexual assault and domestic violence. “Take Back the Night is an inclusive movement that invites all community members to join the effort. Opening our event to the public underscores the importance that we must all do our part to end sexual violence, considering that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. This event brings awareness and prevention skills to our students, which is essential in creating healthy relationships and a safer campus for all!”

If you or someone you know is has struggled or is currently combatting obstacles as a result of sexual assault and/or domestic violence, seek help!

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

 

Photo Credit: Cover, 1