Among the glow sticks, energetic chants and banners proudly sported by college students, there was a message that was heard loud and clear: Take Back the Night.
Parading around campus on April 16 at 8 p.m., students and community members brought awareness to sexual violence by showing that strength comes in numbers.
With a large turn out, chants like “Yes mean yes, no means no. However we dress, wherever we go” filled the paths on campus and the sidewalks of Forest Grove as the group of participants headed to Lincoln Park for a night ceremony. The group was made up of survivors of sexual violence and supporters of sexual violence awareness.
When asked about the importance of Take Back the Night, Aloha, Ore. resident Merilee Stone said that events like this “show that we don’t have to be the victim anymore.”
At the park, speakers from the Washington County Human Rights Council, Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, Pacific’s Campus Wellness Center and other organizations encouraged people who have been sexually assaulted to view themselves as survivors instead of victims. Victim blaming was a general topic discussed throughout the event.
Director of the Center for Gender Equity Martha Rampton announced the statistics of sexual assault. One in four women and one in seven men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Not only did this event bring awareness to students that attended who may not have understood the prevalence of this type of abuse, it also was a time for students to openly speak about their sexual assault experiences in a safe, supportive environment.
“Seeing and hearing your peers talk about what they’ve been through and the pain it brought them lights a spark and hopefully those students will go on and fight for the elimination of sexual assault amongst everyone,” said sophomore Esbeida Ramos.
Ramos is the co-chair for CGE and helped coordinate the event with residence hall council and campus wellness. Ramos said the attendance at the event doubled from the previous year.
“This is a really good way to show support and break the silence,” said sophomore Hannah Claussenius-Kalman.
Take Back the Night is an annual event on the Pacific University campus and is open to students, staff, faculty and community members.