Take Back the Night Encourages Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention

With April being National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Northwestern University organizations have collaborated on events focused on raising awareness on sexual violence.

This week, the Take Back the Night March will take place in an effort to give a voice to the issue of sexual violence. This annual event, which starts as a rally, march, and then speak out, will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 23 at the Rock.

“A lot of colleges have missions for their Take Back The Night,” said Carrie Wachter, Coordinator of Sexual Violence Response Services and Advocacy for the Center for Awareness, Response and Education. “Some are silent marches or focused on just a rally, but Northwestern has a combination to ensure everyone feels safe or can be there for support.”

The march is also a culmination of a full week of events put on by College Feminists.

Wachter is set to speak alongside a representative from the Women’s Center before the march begins.

The speak out component begins directly after the march. One speaker starts it by creating an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable. Then, people voluntarily walk into the center of the circle and share their experiences. Not everyone is required to speak, so many attendees participate to stand in solidarity with survivors.

The march, one of this week’s Take Back the Night events, is part of an international effort by the Take Back the Night Foundation to support survivors and raise awareness of sexual violence issues. The goal of Take Back the Night is to spread awareness and encourage open discussion in a constructive and supportive manner.

Aside from the march, there will be a game show by Catharsis Productions at 1 p.m. on Monday, April 27 on the Norris Ground Floor. Catharsis Productions focuses on reducing interpersonal violence through artistically innovative programming.

Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators (SHAPE) will also be sponsoring a screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary and exposé on sexual assault on U.S. campuses and institutional cover-ups. The screening is set for 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20 at the McCormick Auditorium at Norris.

“We often see a lot of the same people supporting our events and programming, but we really want to encourage attendance from people outside the sexual assault awareness realm,” Wachter said. “This documentary is eye-opening and so telling about what is going on at college campuses across the country.”

Overall, the events for Take Back the Night are meant to provide constructive ways for people to learn about sexual assault and how to help others who may have experienced it.

“Strong partnerships really help get the word out,” said Erin Clark, Assistant Director of CARE. “Moving forward we really want to see more collaborations that get people interested and involved.”