By: Amanda Parisse
Goucher hosted Take Back the Night, an event meant to bring awareness and to empower survivors of sexual assault, on Friday, April 21. This inclusive sexual assault awareness campaign is meant to be a safe way for survivors to speak out about their experiences with a supportive community. Traditionally, the phrase “sexual assault” conjures up the image of a white, heterosexual female victim.
However, this year the organizers aimed to change that idea by making the event more inclusive to other sexual orientations and races. Event organizer, Noah Kahan ‘17 said, “As a gay male survivor, I felt I wasn’t represented equally.”
This year, inclusive workshops were held in the week leading up to the Speak Out, where people share their stories. This included a writing seminar and a student run art gallery showcasing survivors’ artwork. The afternoon before the Speak Out, assistant professor Phaye Poliakoff- Chen hosted a lantern making group.
Unlike past years, where the event planning was mainly dictated by the faculty, this year’s event was mainly organized by students. The faculty acted as advisors. The main goal for the organizers was for Goucher’s student body to share their stories in a safe and supportive environment.
The Speak Out started with two guest speakers. First to speak was Professor Rick Pringle, who presented a slide show outlining sexual assault statistics. An important point of the presentation was that out of the national demographic only 4% of assault victims report the crime to the police and only 7% report a campus assault to Public Safety.
Samantha Black, who represents a local organization called TurnAround, talked the audience through helping a friend deal with sexual assault if they are having trouble coming forward. She stated that the top three reasons that people do not report an assault are: being afraid of repercussions, feeling ashamed, or they convince themselves that the assault wasn’t that big of a deal. Along with the Speak Out, there was an option for survivors to anonymously share their story through an intercom. There was also a space for people who needed to step out for a bit for when it got too intense.
Take Back The Night’s purpose is for survivors to reclaim the things their abusers took from them the night it happened by telling their stories with a purpose that was hopefully served.