For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Maine at Presque Isle will host a Take Back the Night event for campus and community members. Organized by a new student organization on campus, the Black Student Union, the event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. Take Back the Night will include a candlelight vigil for all sexual assault victims, starting at Gentile Hall and heading to South Hall, and end with a gathering and survivor stories in the South Hall Faculty Lounge. All are encouraged to come to this free event, which will occur rain or shine.
UMPI’s Take Back the Night will create a safe space for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to share their stories and meet other members of their community who face the same hardships. The event organizers hope to help victims heal and cope, while encouraging people to do more in their communities to help address this issue of violence.
Community partners for this Take Back the Night event include Hope and Justice Project, Sexual Assault Support Program at AMHC, Micmac Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy Center, and Women from the First Nations in Canada.
“Particularly in light of the #MeToo movement, we must continue to hold the light, to use our voices and to continue to work for safety for all,” Shirley Rush, Black Student Union advisor, said. “We must continue to speak out to change the status quo of victim blame. We must strive to make every space a safe place, not only for women but for everyone. Standing together in the night is a powerful statement of solidarity. Together we are not powerless. Together we understand. Together we resist the culture of violence. Together we will Take Back the Night.”
A recent study found that nearly one in five adult Maine residents had reported that they have been the victim of rape or attempted rape during their lifetime; 35.7% of female respondents and 10.1% of male respondents have experienced this crime at some point in their lives, according to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault website. MECASA also said roughly 14,000 Maine residents may be the victim of rape or unwanted sexual activity during any 12 month period.
“People should attend this event because it not only opens your eyes to what really happens out in the world but also opens your heart to all these stories of real life people and may even help you share your own story,” Riana Teixeira, President of UMPI’s Black Student Union, said. “Events like this not only spread awareness that sexual assault and domestic violence does exist in our communities but also brings people in the community together to be a support system for one another.”