In partnership with Hope and Justice Project, the University of Maine at Presque Isle will host a Take Back the Night event, which will include a survivor speak-out and candlelight vigil, on Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Campus Center Multi-Purpose Room. The community is invited to attend and be a part of this important event.
Take Back the Night events have been held across the country and around the world since as far back as the 1970s, but this is one of the first times such an event has been held in Presque Isle. The Take Back the Night event at UMPI, organized by UMPI student Ghazaleh Sailors, is focused on better understanding the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault by hearing the stories of those who have been impacted by them.
“This event is about bearing witness to the stories of survivors so that, as we go about our lives as community members, students, and workers, we’re using those stories to help shape the way that we support victims, hold abusers accountable for their actions, and change attitudes,” Casey Faulkingham, prevention coordinator for Hope and Justice Project, said.
Faulkingham will join UMPI President Linda Schott and Sailors in providing keynotes at the start of the event. President Schott will deliver a welcome and talk about the new sexual assault policy for the University. Faulkingham will discuss the resources available in the region to survivors and provide an introduction about the purpose of Take Back the Night. Sailors will kick off the survivor speak-out by sharing her personal story and then ask others to do the same.
Sailors, a senior Physical Education non-teaching major from Santa Barbara, Calif., has attended UMPI for her entire college experience and has been featured by the likes of Newsweek and the Associated Press because she is the only woman playing baseball in the NCAA right now.
Her refusal to give up her dream—and the sexism, prejudice and abuse she experienced at the high school level because of it—have shaped who she is. Learning about her story is what prompted Hope and Justice Project to ask Sailors if she would consider leading a Take Back the Night event for Aroostook County.
“This is for everyone,” Sailors said. “There are a lot of people who are going to attend this event who might not know if they’re going to speak, but this is an opportunity to face their past. It’s also an opportunity to hear about the problems and the real stories, and support friends who have been through these situations. I want people who are survivors to know that they’re not alone and that people are going to be supporting them, and that’s why we need people there listening.”
To create a safe, judgment-free environment, no recordings or pictures are allowed during the speak-out portion of the event and any members of the media in attendance will be asked to stop recording. All cell phones need to be put away. In addition, advocates from Hope and Justice Project and AMHC Sexual Assault Services will be available at the event to provide support to anyone who may have experiences with abuse or violence.
At the conclusion of the speak-out, the event will culminate with a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and in support of the survivors.
For more information about this event, please contact Faulkingham at 207-764-2977. For more information about Take Back the Night, visit www.takebackthenight.org.