Students stood in solidarity with those whose voices have been silenced because of sexual assault and domestic violence during Take Back the Night on Wednesday evening.
Take Back the Night is an annual event that aims to reclaim the night and serve as a platform for sexual assault survivors to stand up and speak out against violence on NC State’s campus. The event is part of Sexual Assault Awareness month, which is hosted by the NC State Women’s Center.
Janine Kossen, the associate director for interpersonal violence services at the Women’s Center, said that Take Back the Night is an opportunity for students to come together to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and empower their voices.
“What we’re trying to do tonight is uplift the voices and stories of all people who have been affected by interpersonal violence, whether it’s sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, stalking,” Kossen said. “Also really examine the systems of oppression that box people into certain identities and don’t think about intersectional issues and how that relates to their experiences of interpersonal violence.”
Kossen described how the event showcases the values of the NC State community by marching on campus chanting for no more violence.
“It’s an opportunity for the whole Wolfpack community to come together and learn about these issues,” Kossen said. “Then, visibly walk through campus and to demonstrate their support for survivors and really make a statement that NC State doesn't accept or condone violence and that we will believe survivors. Having a huge signature event like this is great, it’s just one thing that we’re doing this month throughout campus.”
Rachel Neville, a third-year studying math education, said that this was her third time at the event and she came back because she felt empowered to use her voice and stand with individuals who have been through similar experiences.
“I am a survivor, I am here to support my fellow survivors and also bring awareness to it,” Neville said. “I was really ashamed of what happened to me and I didn’t want to talk about it, and I had went to support another friend and I realized that really changed me and moved me. I realized that I do have a voice and my voice matters and so I wanted to come out all my other years to make sure that everyone heard my voice and to makes sure that people knew that what happened to me was not my fault and it matters and it should be changed.”
Several members of the NC State football team attended the event to stand in solidarity with sexual assault survivors. Dave Doeren, head coach of the football team, said one of the roles of the football program is to show its support of other movements on campus and to become educated on issues that students on NC State’s campus face.
“What we try to do is to educate our players and bring in people from different offices on campus to talk about the domestic issues that [don’t] just happen on college campuses,” Doeren said. “I want our players to understand that our job is to protect people and protect students and to be leaders on our campus and to look at every person that goes to school here as somebody that could be their brother or sister and help them out. That’s part of the education process.”
In the age of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, some students are hoping that more conversations will be had about the impact of sexual assault and domestic violence on the community. Fri Momin, a third-year studying cognitive neuroscience and industrial organizational psychology and an employee at the Women’s Center, said that she hopes to have more of these discussions this year.
“It starts conversations and that’s where the big point is,” Momin said. “It lets people talk and it makes people listen and that’s the big push that were going for. It’s educational and it’s informing and beyond that, it shows that people are present it makes it more of a reality. That voice is not commonly heard and this is the opportunity for that, so it’s a positive impact for everybody and it’s an opportunity for survivors to know that there are allies for them.”
Students can visit the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity website for more information about Sexual Assault Awareness month and events.