Take Back the Night raises awareness about domestic violence

“The Night Belongs To Me.” That was the name and defining message of the poem read aloud by the All Maine Women Honor Society, setting the stage for the rest of the Take Back The Night event last Thursday in the North Pod of the Memorial Union.

Take Back The Night is a yearly event held by the UMaine Student Women’s Association (SWA), a national event dedicated to raising awareness about and offering aid to victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault, among other forms of abuse.

The event was led by Amber Hathaway and Kate Harlan, SWA co-presidents, who describe the events’ topic of violence against women as a normally “hush-hush” subject matter.

“These aren’t topics that are given a voice, and it’s our opportunity to share,” Hathaway said. “Take Back The Night gives us a chance to break the silence.”

Assistant Vice President and Senior Associate Dean of Students Kenda Scheele gave the introduction and welcomed the attendees, while Dean of Students Robert Dana, who normally gives the welcoming statement, was out of town this year.

Scheele described the Take Back The Night tradition as “a key event that sets the tone going forth from here.”

Representation of UMaine organizations included the Office of Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention, Athletes for Sexual Responsibility and Male Athletes Against Violence. Local organizations, such as The Spruce Run–Womancare Alliance, Rape Response Services, the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center and AMHC Sexual Assault Services, also had representatives attending to offer their services to those who need them.

After the initial rally, there was a survivor speak-out, giving the attendees the chance to talk about their own histories of abuse, during which time no media coverage was allowed. For those that didn’t wish to speak aloud, the option of writing their story down and submitting it into an anonymous box was available.

After the stories were told by all who were willing to share, a candlelight vigil was held, followed afterwards by a public “March Against Violence,” chanting empowering messages like “Join together, free our lives, we will not be victimized,” and “Claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stand, take back the night.”

According to the Maine Commission of Domestic and Sexual Abuse, less than 5 percent of completed and attempted rapes were reported to law enforcement officials; however, two-thirds of sexual assault victims told another person about the incident (mainly a friend, not family or a college official).

For those that wish or need to talk to someone, the Counseling Center is open on campus at the Cutler Health Center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can also be reached at 207-581-1392.

The Student Women’s Association holds meetings every Wednesday in Fernald Hall at 6 p.m., and would “love to see new faces.”

Read more here: http://mainecampus.com/2014/10/06/take-back-the-night-raises-awareness-about-domestic-violence/
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