April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Women’s Center is hosting its 6th consecutive Take Back the Night on Thursday, April 18th. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of questions about what Take Back the Night exactly is, why it looks the way it does, and how students can get involved. To help get those questions answered we started the “What You Need to Know” series focused on TBTN last year and are continuing on the tradition, so stay tuned for more posts over the next couple of weeks. This blog focuses on the evening’s campus march against sexual violence.
1,2,3,4 WE WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE
5,6,7,8 NO MORE VIOLENCE! NO MORE HATE!
As a survivor of sexual assault, the Take Back The Night march reminds me that I’m not alone.
Mariana De Matos Medeiros, ’16, and former student staff member at the Women’s Center, said “To me, having the opportunity to speak and march at TBTN last year reminded me that I am not alone and that I can stand in my power to speak about my experience. It took me 3 years to finally speak about my assault and one of the very first times was at TBTN last year. Seeing so many gathered to support allowed me to speak and speaking has allowed me to heal.”
It can be easy to blame yourself, isolate yourself, and feel like you’re the only person struggling with your healing; However, the march lets you connect with people who support you and believe you.
Sarah Lilly, a 2016 and 2017 Take Back The Night student leader says “Marching is us showing that solidarity is a verb, and it brings me great pride to feel so supported by my local UMBC community and to see the unconditional support for everyone else in our community.”
In an open letter in her school’s newspaper, survivor and student activist, Angie Epifano, recounted the aftermath of her sexual assault, namely her experience with institutional betrayal. She ended the letter with, “Silence has the rusty taste of shame.” Due to rape culture, victim blaming, a lack of support for survivors, and more, it is understandable that many survivors do not disclose their experience and sexual assault is rarely spoke of in public.
Much like the Baltimore-based Monument Quilt is creating and demanding public space for survivors to heal, Take Back the Night demands for space in which we will not be shamed into silence. Activists like Angie, the Monument Quilt creators, and YOU during the march are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.
Here’s some helpful information about the campus march against sexual violence to those attending Take Back the Night at UMBC:
- The survivor speak-out is intended to center the voices and experience of survivors (of all identities) of sexual violence. The speak-out is for allies to listen and survivors to break their silence but the march is for EVERYONE to GET LOUD!
- We encourage individuals and groups to make rally signs ahead of time. Signs are a great way to show your solidarity and support while also representing your student orgs, res hall communities, and frats/sororities.
- We’ll line everyone up in the march in waves. Survivors wanting to march up front with other survivors are invited to line up first along with other community members needed to take an accessible route march. Everyone else will then line up as survivors begin to march towards the south exit of The Commons.
- As we march, walk slowly and stay together. Try to avoid large gaps in the line.
- This year we’re bringing back the Survivor Circle. As we make out way through the route we will stop midway through the march and hold our Survivor Circle.
- The Survivor Circle is a chance for survivors who may or may not have shared their story during the speak out to be recognized, come together, and be surrounded in support and healing by those attending the march. This is an opportunity for those who identify as survivors to come together without having to speak out or share their story if they do not wish to do so.
- The march will end back on Main Street where the space will be ready for the evening’s resource fair and craftivism. As you’re heading back into The Commons, come all the way into Main Street so everyone else behind you can get into the space as well.
- There will be one more chance to share your experience as a survivor post-march at a survivor discussion group led by the student organization We Believe You in the Women’s Center. (This event will be private and for survivors only).
- Counselors-On-Call will be available throughout the evening. Any one needing additional support or simply needs to take a break are invited to visit the self-care station that will be set up in the Commuter Lounge.
For more information about UMBC’s TBTN (check out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too by searching the hashtag #UMBCTBTN):
- Stop by the Women’s Center the week leading up to TBTN to make a rally sign for the march on April 17th
- A blog post about UMBC’s 2005 TBTN march written by alum, Dr. Grollman.
- Speak: Knowing a Survivor Without Knowing Their Story – a blog post on cultivating a survivor-responsive campus.
- Register for and attend an upcoming Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence workshop. Click here for more details on the students workshop.
- The Women’s Center 2018 TBTN roundup
Stay tuned for the next installment of what you need to know about TBTN 2019!