For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Student Organization of Social Workers (SOSW) will host a Take Back the Night event on Thursday, Oct. 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. The event will include a candlelight vigil and gathering, starting at Gentile Hall and finishing at South Hall. Anyone from the community is encouraged to attend this free event, which will take place rain or shine. Light refreshments will be provided.
SOSW is partnering with local agencies, including AMHC Sexual Assault Services, Hope and Justice Project, and Micmac Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy Center, with the hope of educating people on the impact and issues of domestic violence and sexual violence. According to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault website, one in five Mainers will experience sexual assault at some point in their lifetime, and, each year, 14,000 Mainers will experience sexual violence. Nationally, the most underreported violent crime is sexual violence. One of the many goals of the event is to empower victims of sexual assault.
“People should attend the event if they believe that our community should be safe for everyone. Take Back the Night represents the earliest worldwide stand against sexual violence, especially violence against women,” Shirley Rush, SOSW advisor, said. “This public vigil offers an opportunity for anyone touched by sexual violence—personally, or by one’s relationship to a loved one who has experienced sexual violence—to stand together for respectful relationships and safe communities.”
People planning to attend should meet at the entrance of Gentile Hall. Rush said the walk will end at South Hall, where everyone will gather in the Faculty Lounge to come together for protest and awareness of sexual abuse. Activities there will open with drumming by Micmac women representing the Micmac Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy Center. Stories of survivors of sexual violence will then be read or spoken. Represented agencies will share the resources and services offered for these circumstances. Following a moment of silence to recognize those survivors, drumming and chanting will close this circle of safety.
“The importance of such events as Take Back the Night includes raising awareness, providing education about safety and respectful relationships, representing those whose lives have been forever changed through their experience of sexual violence, promoting understanding and support for survivors, articulating the law and its limitations, and especially standing together to say NO to hate and violence,” Rush said.