Kent State rallies together to ‘Take Back the Night’

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Attendees at the annual Take Back the Night event participate in name burning, a ceremonial burning of name of abusers where the name of the abuser is written on a small piece of paper and placed into the fire in the center of the group. 

Madeline Pigott

Kent State students united Tuesday evening to “Take Back the Night” and rally against sexual and relationship abuse.

Take Back the Night” started as an international march to protest sexual violence in the 1970s and became its own foundation in 2001. The foundation helps communities put together multiple forms of events to help bring awareness to this issue.

Students and Relationship Violence Support Services (SRVSS) leads the “Take Back the Night” event at Kent State annually.

RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, says 11.2 percent of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. By using that percentage, roughly 3,641 students at Kent State may be affected.

The night began at the M.A.C. Center Plaza. Different color fabrics were provided to symbolize different acts of violence for students to identify with. Students made personalized posters with words of encouragement and powerful statements. A candle lit vigil took place while “This Little Light of Mine” played and a moment of silence was held in honor of those who have lost their lives due to sexual and relationship violence.

The event also featured guest speaker Donya Buchanan, the director of domestic violence and visitation services for Safer Futures. She discussed the importance of supporting survivors. “We must know that their experience is their experience and their truth is their truth,” Buchanan said during her speech.

The event is normally held in October near the beginning of the school year. “This is the time to educate and become aware,” said Jessica Lockhart, a graduate assistant with SRVSS.

Throughout the year, SRVSS holds events and meetings to bring awareness to this issue.

“It means a lot to go to a school where the campus is involved in these kind of issues. It’s really nice to know that you have people that will support you,” said Cecilia Dannery, a freshman visual communication design major.

Yvette Roberts is the support services coordinator for SRVSS. “Take Back the Night means survivors coming together to unite and know that they have a place to go,” Roberts said. “We will not tolerate sexual assault or intimate relationship violence in our community.”

After the candle vigil, the crowd of roughly 40 students marched from the M.A.C. Center to Risman Plaza as they shouted anti-sexual violence chants. They continued the remainder of the event at the Williamson House.

Outside of the house there was a name burning ceremony where the participants wrote down the names of people, emotions or ideas they wanted to let go of. One by one they placed their paper in the fire.

During the event, everyone was given a pebble representing the boulder they have crushed down to the small size of a pebble. The pebble represents their experience being a small fragment of who they are and not defining them as a person.

The night ended with the members from SRVSS inviting students inside the Williamson House where they shared their own personal stories and experiences.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing relationship or sexual abuse, please contact one of the following services.

 Students and Relationship Violence Support Services: 330-672-8016

Safer Futures: 330.673.2500

Townhall II: 1-866-449-8518

In case of emergency, call 911.

Madeline Pigott is the mental health and social services reporter. Contact her at [email protected]