Take Back the Night event educates students on sexual assault and supports survivors

CARE peer advocates read off Facebook comments about a sexual assault case. The theme this year for Take Back the Night was “Sexual Assault and Social Media.”

By Grace Dille

The CARE To Stop Violence Office and the University Health Center hosted the annual Take Back the Night event April 25, allowing students the opportunity to share their stories and work together to combat sexual assault through social media platforms.

This year’s theme stemmed from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that have surfaced in recent months, according to Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) To Stop Violence peer advocate Nick Koven.

“As technology expands, people communicate more and more over social media and that can be really good, but also really harmful,” Koven, a junior criminal justice and psychology double major, said.

The event included poetic performances, guest speakers, and activities including writing letters to sexual assault survivors. Survivors and allies in attendance were also given the chance to share their stories.

The CARE team handed out large poster boards for this interactive portion, which contained sexual assault stories shared on Facebook where attendees could comment on.

Rajan Parikh, a program management specialist at CARE, said students need to understand “how social media influences the way we think about sexual assault.”

Students write letters providing support and encouragement to sexual assault survivors.

“The way we think about victims, and frankly victim blaming…gives us a little insight of how to combat that violence, and also to understand why things may be false,” Parikh said.

Parikh encouraged attendees to take what they learned at the event and share it with their peers and family members, as well as to elevate their baseline knowledge of sexual assault. But not as many people showed up as he had hoped.

“The turnout, although great tonight…for a university this size, it’s still pretty minimal,” Parikh said. “Many people are just lacking the education, and a lot of things are said from ignorance.”

Koven stressed that one common misconception people have is that sexual assault is some sort of natural consequence of getting too drunk.

“There’s a really clear line where there are things that happen when people drink, and to assume that sexual assault is in that category is just illogical and makes no sense,” Koven said.

Senior landscape architecture major Akira Shepherd noticed the “familial vibe” and support offered to everyone at the event.

“Everyone was on the survivor’s side, and it was very nice to see,” Shepherd said.



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