Take Back the Night is an event held at my college campus each year (Kutztown University for those who don’t know). During the day there is the clothesline project, which is where people write their stories of abuse on t-shirts, or they could write inspiration quotes, among other things. At night we do the Take Back the Night portion, which is where students, staff, and community members have a chance to tell their story of sexual abuse publicly. Yesterday was my second year attending, and it was just as moving as the first time.
The way that it works is the audience is invited to come to the front of the room and share their story if they would like. No one is forced to, it’s not planned ahead of time by staff, it’s impromptu. Once the first person goes, more people gain the courage to speak. A few of the people who spoke said it was their first time talking publicly about their assault. Many cried while they recounted their trauma, and the audience was all moved to tears through the whole night.
Multiple people when up and started with “I wasn’t planning on speaking today but” and then told their story. That’s what is so necessary about Take Back the Night – it inspires people to talk about their trauma in a safe space. It is a place without judgement, without blame, without bias. They also have trained advocates, like myself, attend in case anyone needs to talk after hearing such emotional stories. Having events like these allow students to have the opportunity to get their abuse off their chest and it also gives them the chance to meet other students who have been through similar situations.
I think it’s very important that we hold Take Back the Night each year. I plan to attend as long as I can, and I urge anyone in college or who lives near a college town to see if your campus has an event such as this one.