Take Back the Night


By Bria Holness

As some may know, Take Back The Night was held last Wednesday, April 10th, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Take Back The Night is an event that brings individuals from all backgrounds, sexual orientations, cultures, genders, and races together to speak out against sexual and relationship violence, along with other forms of oppression and bias. The event not only provides an opportunity for the community to declare that everyone has the right to live free from violence, but it gives those who have been affected a chance to voice their stories as well. According to takebackthenight.org, the first TBTN took place in 1976 when women who were attending the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women lit candles and marched in the streets of Belgium to condemn violence against women. Since 2004, the Advocacy Center here at Syracuse University has been coordinating an annual TBTN event.

These are important issues that everyone should be aware of, especially in a college setting. As said at the event, most women are raped before they reach the age of 25. One in four college girls will be raped and many of these girls will be raped in the first few weeks of either their freshman or sophomore year. And unfortunately, most of these rapes will go unreported.

What can we do about this? There are many cases in which people are intimidated to help because they feel they are too young or don’t have the resources to help make a difference—but that isn’t true at all. Anyone can help. Here are a few ways suggested by the coordinators of Take Back The Night:

Take Action. If a friend, family member, classmate, or teammate is disrespectful or abusive to others, you may want to try speaking with him or her and urge him or her to seek help. If you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, parent, professor, counselor, the Advocacy center, or Residence Life staff.

If you suspect that someone close to you or even someone that you know is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, ask if you can help.

Seek professional help NOW if you are emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually abusive to others, or have been in the past. (Syracuse resources: Vera House, (315) 425-0818; S.U. Counseling Center, (315) 443-4715)

Have the courage to look inward. Question and challenge your own attitudes and beliefs. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might unintentionally perpetuate violence, and work toward changing them. Attend workshops and programs aimed at reducing bias and hate crimes and increasing awareness of diversity issues on college campuses.

Think twice before purchasing any magazine, renting any video, subscribing to any web site, or buying any music that portrays people in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. You may not think so, but such material can insidiously creep into your mannerisms in how you speak, how you act, and what you think.

Be an ally to those who are working to end all forms of violence. Support the efforts of campus and community based organizations by attending such events and rallies like Take Back The Night. Speak out against bias and hate language. Go as far as supporting and involving yourself in LGBT organizations and causes. You can do so by connecting with the LGBT resource center on campus.

Fundraise for rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and other community organizations that work to end violence. If you belong to a team, fraternity, sorority, or another student group, organize a fundraiser. Here on SU’s campus, the fraternities and sororities that have houses on Walnut Avenue and Comstock Avenue will display clean slate banners before Mayfest in action against sexual and relationship violence.

Volunteer with Advocacy Center on campus or Vera House in the Syracuse community.

Mentor and teach boys about how to be men in ways that allow men to access a full range of emotions and behaviors. Essentially, lead by example.