Student community gathers to connect with victims of sexual violence


Amy Zhang

Art history junior Kaila Schedeen places a candle down as part of a candlelight vigil held in support of people impacted by sexual violence at Take Back the Night on Wednesday night. The event, hosted by Voices Against Violence, promoted awareness for the negative effects of rape culture, giving allies and survivors a chance to connect with others and share their stories.

Matthew Hart

In a release of anger, a sudden uproar from a crowd of students sounded through the RecSports Center as part of Take Back the Night, an annual event aimed to raise awareness about the negative effects of rape culture.

Take Back the Night is an international event first hosted in the 1970s and introduced to the UT campus more than a decade ago. This year’s campus event took place Wednesday night at the RecSports Center and featured performances from many artists, including Manifest Electric, poet Karen Duke and Theatre for Dialogue

Lynn Hoare, who is a social work lecturer and Theatre for Dialogue specialist for Voices Against Violence, said the event gives victims and survivors the chance to claim their stories and connect with other people who are also survivors of sexual violence.  

“The speak-out is kind of the main event and the purpose of that is to give survivors of sexual violence an opportunity to reclaim the night, which is when we often think of sexual violence occurring, reclaim their bodies and to claim their story in a public way,” Hoare said.

Hoare said the event took place on the Main Mall in previous years but was relocated due to inclement weather. 

According to Jane Bost, associate director for the Counseling and Mental Health Center, Take Back the Night is an international event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and is supported by a community of partners including SafePlace, Hope Alliance and other diverse organizations.

“A lot of times this is perceived as a women’s issue, and it’s not just a women’s issue,” Bost said. “While a high percentage of survivors are women, male survivors are also affected and we look at men as our allies. We want to work together in prevention with men.”

Erin Burrows, prevention outreach specialist for Voices Against Violence, said the event is open for survivors to share what they are willing to in a safe community.

“It’s an event to gather together as a community and to give space for people to share their stories,” Burrows said. “It’s so rare in our society that we have honest conversations about sexual violence despite the fact that it is a national epidemic.”

Printed on Thursday, April 4, 2013 as: Advocating consent