The University of Maine at Presque Isle will host its sixth annual Take Back the Night event for campus and community members with a candlelight vigil and group discussion—meant to support survivors and raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault—on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m., beginning at Gentile Hall. The event is co-sponsored by UMPI’s Black Student Union and Student Organization of Social Workers. The gathering is free and all are encouraged to attend.
Take Back the Night gives survivors an opportunity to heal and cope with the violence that has occurred in their lives and community allies a forum to show support. The event brings people together for awareness and protest. The first Take Back the Night event started in 1973, when a group of women at the University of Southern Florida marched through campus demanding a women’s center.
Rain or shine, the candlelight vigil begins at the entrance of Gentile Hall and proceeds through campus to the South Hall Faculty Lounge. The walk is roughly half a mile in length. The vigil gives people the chance to reflect and spread awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence.
The event continues with a discussion in South Hall. The conversation provides a safe environment for all victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and their allies to talk about their experiences. Take Back the Night gives attendants the chance to share stories and meet others who may be dealing with the same struggles. Community resource representatives will be in attendance to provide support to whoever may need it.
While bringing visibility to such an important topic, the event organizers also hope to encourage people to do more in their communities when it comes to sexual assault and domestic violence.
“This event gives the community a chance to come together to shine light on an issue that is usually kept in the dark. It’s a chance for survivors to take back that night and regain their power of their lives,” Riana Teixeira, Vice President of UMPI’s Black Student Union, said.
A recent study estimated that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. In the U.S, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experienced some form of physical sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. NSVRC also stated that in 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator. Approximately 8% of rapes occur while the victim is at work.
“Take Back the Night allows individuals to speak up about this issue that’s relevant to more people than we’d think. It’s also a great time to learn about the services that are provided in the community and to show support to survivors,” Teixeira said. “Events like this brings people together to show that the community supports them and is here for them. We hope that it gives people an opportunity to heal if needed and also to learn. This is not just beneficial for survivors but for supporters as well.”