Wednesday, April 6, members of the Benedictine community participated in Take Back the Night, an annual event aimed at spreading awareness of sexual, relationship, and domestic violence. Over 15 student and community organizations gathered on the 4th floor of Goodwin at 7:00 PM for the event, put on by the Benedictine PEACE Team along with Prevention Peer Educators, YWCA, Family Shelter Service of Metropolitan Family Services, and Arab American Family Services.
The night was MC’d by Anthony Miller, a Benedictine alumnus. Miller started by introducing the opening speech, a poem by student senator Samiha Syed. After that, students were free to wander the floor, interacting with the different organizations, covering a wide range of issues, from teen pregnancy to gun violence, to racial violence.
Afterward, a short skit was performed, in which a volunteer, representing an assaulted person, was given negative feedback from friends, family members, health professionals, clergy, and police. Each time a negative comment was made, somebody threw a blanket over the volunteer. As each of their negative statements were recontextualized into a positive, supporting statement, the blankets were removed as part of “the healing process.”
This was followed by an opportunity for survivors to come up and speak for a short period about their experiences and thoughts. Three attendees did so, though out of consideration, their names and statements will remain private.
Take Back the Night is an international event, starting in San Francisco in 1978. The event is also often held on college campuses according to Colleen Zavodny with the YWCA, an international rape crisis organization.
“It’s to take back the night, reclaim our lives, free from violence,” Zavodny said.
The YWCA also works with the Dupage county sheriff’s office in providing resources to officers and victims.
“We encourage our officers to reach out to them with questions about sexual assault” Said Corporal Terri Albright with the sheriff’s office, who attended along with the lisle police department.
The night concluded with a candlelight walk around the quad, in solidarity with the lives lost to violence. Due to intense wind, the candles could not be used, so phone flashlights stood in as a substitute. As everyone made their rounds of the quad, they all chanted together.
“Two, Four, Six, Eight
No More violence, no more Hate.
Yes Means Yes, No means No!
Whatever we wear, wherever we go!
Break the Silence! Stop the Violence
We have the power, we have the right!
The streets are ours, to Take Back the Night!”