The University of Maine at Presque Isle hosted its seventh annual Take Back the Night event, a peaceful, socially-distanced candlelight walk to raise community awareness for sexual and domestic violence on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m., in front of South Hall. This annual event was co-sponsored by the UMPI Black Student Union and Student Organization of Social Workers. The gathering was free to attend and everyone who participated followed social distancing guidelines.
The purpose of the event was to bring awareness about the importance of safety for all and freedom from sexual and intimate partner violence. Take Back the Night first started in 1973, when a group of women at the University of Southern Florida marched through campus demanding a women’s center. Take Back the Night gives survivors an opportunity to heal and cope with the violence that has occurred in their lives and allows the community to show support.
Due to COVID-19, attendees were unable to gather inside to listen to stories of personal triumph over trauma. However, they stood together outside, socially distanced, along the sidewalk in front of South Hall. Despite the bitter cold and the dark that evening, they bundled up and used small flashlights and the flashlight function on their cell phones where needed to represent candlelight.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a recent study estimated that, in the U.S., 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of physical sexual violence in their lifetime. NSVRC also stated that in 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator. Less than 50% of victims report crimes against them.
“This is a solemn event to recognize the strength of those who have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence, and to stand with our brothers and sisters as allies, as a community, to create safety for all,” Shirley Rush, UMPI Associate Professor Social Work, said.
If you would like to know more about Take Back the Night or events like it, please visit https://takebackthenight.org/.