Survivors gather to uplift one another
Students Robin Pereira (front) and Emily Kilheeney lead a night of activism for survivors. Photo courtesy of Peter Soucy/Hofstra Chronicle
Take Back the Night, an annual rally and march hosted by Collegiate Women of Color, Student Advocates of Safer Sex, Campus Feminist Collective (CFC) and Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition, fostered solidarity and healing for survivors of sexual violence on Friday, April 6.
The night of activism started at 6 p.m., when students were invited to the Student Center Theater stage to listen and speak out about their experiences surrounding sexual violence in a safe space.
This portion of the event also helped bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence and how widespread it is, even within the Hofstra community. To ensure comfort and safety for the survivors speaking out, photography was prohibited during the event, counselors were available to meet with students at all times and safe rooms were set up in the surrounding area.
“[Take Back the Night] gives survivors of sexual assault/sexual violence a safe space to share their stories. Since there is such stigma attached to these attacks, survivors often feel like they cannot speak openly about their stories, making the healing process extremely difficult,” said Robin Pereira, a senior journalism and women studies major.
Many of the attendees voiced the frustrations they have faced in their personal healing processes, such as repression and fear of not being believed by others, which are major issues faced by most survivors and subsequently make many incidents go unreported.
Some survivors walked up to the stage on their own to tell their stories and others brought friends for support. For each survivor that got up, the remaining audience snapped their fingers in support of their bravery.
“Every year, [Take Back The Night] builds a support system and uplifts the voices and stories of survivors. It’s an incredibly important event and I’m so proud to have been a part of the team that worked so hard to put it on this year,” said Emily Kilheeney a senior political science, journalism and women’s studies major.
This year, Take Back the Night drew in around 40 people to march and chant together. Periera who helped coordinate the eventsaid, “Overall the event was successful, because it served its purpose: to provide a safe space for survivors to share their stories. Unlike other events, Take Back the Night isn’t focused on obtaining large crowds, its focus is to uplift survivor’s voices.”
The event made its presence on campus known with participants chanting protests such as “Racist, sexist, anti-gay – you can’t take our rights away,” and “Yes means yes, no means no – whatever we wear, wherever we go!”
Many held hands in support or carried signs with messages like, “No does not mean convince me,” and “Only yes means yes!”
Maria Zaldivar, a junior journalism and women studies major, is now the president of CFC. She found the event to be successful in supporting survivors and calling for an end to sexual violence.
“This event is so important for the community. We need to make sure that Hofstra is as transparent as possible when it comes to the resources that are available to us as students, and Take Back the Night is a great way to learn about these resources,” Zaldivar said.
Additionally, Zaldivar said, “It is also important that we create a space where survivors are able to share their stories the way they want to and to empower and support. Many people in the community can benefit from the event, but at the end of the day it is about being there for the survivors and uplifting and empowering their voices and just letting everyone else know that we really won’t be victimized or silenced.”