Benedictine hosted ‘Take Back The Night’, an event where sexual assault survivors shared their stories and marched to end gender-based violence. The event took place last Thursday.
Partners and organizations such as YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Family Shelter Service attended the event to show support and spread information. The event held room for survivors to share their stories in a safe space surrounded by those who could provide assistance. Discussions were held on racism, sexism, abuse, and the hope for equity for all.
“Even in the safest place, I think it still takes an immense amount of strength to share your experiences,” said Anthony Miller, a Domestic Violence Educator at Family Shelter Service.
Later in the evening, the group marched around the quad, chanting empowering statements such as, “We have the power, we have the right!” and “Break the silence! Stop the violence!”.
“I feel like everyone had this safe space to talk about their experience and felt supported,” said Samiha Syed, a member of the PEACE Team and student senate, “There are people here for you that celebrate you in every way, that wish to empower you, that wish to hear your voice.”
The YWCA is a part of Benedicine’s PEACE Team and likes to have a presence on campus for students. Many representatives attended the event to educate people on their jobs as advocates for survivors. These advocates are also Confidential Advisors for Benedictine University, helping any student who goes through the Tidal IX process. They provide medical and legal advocacy for survivors either at hospitals or courthouses when needed, according to an advocate.
“As a bystander, intervening can be just as powerful as the survivor stepping forward,” said Alapi Shah, a Bilingual Advocate for YWCA in Addison. “You never know who you could help just by preventing something from happening,”
Benedictine has strived to make the campus a safe and secure living, learning, and working environment. Campus Safety officers strive to treat each survivor of a crime with compassion and empathy, according to the Campus Safety school website.
“I hope it helps them see that they can come to us, that they have resources, that they’re not alone, and we’re here to help them,” Dove Vanderploeg Assistant Director of Campus Safety at Benedictine.
Benedictine received the Violence Against Women Act Campus Grant from the Department of Justice in 2016. While the PEACE team started out with a ‘small core group’, it has expanded to include faculty throughout the University. They have continued to spread awareness and messages of violence prevention, according to the PEACE Team website.
“I’ve seen a tremendous difference in how people are understanding what sexual violence is,” said Michi Dubes, Emergency Preparedness Manager at Benedictine.
The foundation ‘Take Back The Night’ originated from numerous groups of women from around the globe protesting against gender-based violence. In 1980, the book Take Back the Night: Women on Pornography by Laura Lederer was published, where she analyzed violence towards women.
Throughout the 80s, hundreds of colleges and universities in North America held protests on their campuses. The Vancouver Rape Relief and The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers named the third Friday of September the official day for marches and rallies to be held, according to the foundation’s website.
In the 90s, these rallies would entail everything from girl rock band concerts to clanging pots and pans while marching and holding candlelight vigils. Activists would end up changing laws and policies to support both victim’s rights and consent-based definitions of sexual violence, said their website.
Eventually, in 2001, TBTNF was formed with the leader Katie Koestner and plenty of volunteers, event holders and participants. Both corporations and professional sports teams began hosting events with the purpose of educating employees and players. Survivors that identified as male and other genders joined the cause, broadening the voices of sexual assault survivors, according to TBTNF’s website.
Throughout COVID in 2020, TBTNF did not stop spreading its message. They held asynchronous marches and online rallies all over the world. Partnerships with artists, graphic designers, musicians, jewelry makers, and small businesses continued to grow, according to the foundation’s website.
YWCA Hotline: 888-293-2080
To contact Dove Vanderploeg, Assistant Director of Campus Safety,
To contact Michi Dubes, Emergency Preparedness Manager,
If you are interested in becoming a Prevention Peer Educator, click https://ben.edu/student-life/student-affairs/peace/prevention-peer-educator/
Take Back The Night Foundation