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Take Back the Night empowers survivors and condemns rape culture

Take Back the Night empowers survivors and condemns rape culture

Photo courtesy of Robert Kinnaird: Community members console each other at Take Back the Night, an annual event hosted by Collegiate Women of Color, Campus Feminist Collective, Student Advocates for Safer Sex and Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition.

In a vehement attempt to eradicate rape culture, hundreds of Take Back the Night events are held in over 30 different countries each year since the first Take Back the Night took place in Philadelphia in 1975. Several student-run organizations hosted Hofstra’s annual Take Back the Night in the Student Center Theater on the evening of Friday, April 5. Every year the event participants join in a march and rally to vocalize condemnation of sexual assault, domestic abuse and rape; however, organizers said the march was canceled this year due to inclement weather.

However, the Speak Out resumed, which is an open forum for survivors to tell their stories and, as the title instructs, take back the night from their aggressors.

The event was co-hosted by Collegiate Women of Color (CWC), Campus Feminist Collective (CFC), Student Advocates for Safer Sex (SASS) and Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition (QTPOCC).

CFC President Maria Zaldivar, a senior journalism and marketing major, was one of the head organizers of this year’s Take Back the Night.

“I got involved in Take Back the Night my freshman year and as a senior it still means the world to me. As an organizer, I also know that this is not an easy event to put together. We always try to create as safe a space for survivors as possible and I know that the people that organized the event this year really worked hard to make sure that we prioritized survivors since at the end of the day, that’s the point of this whole event. Since it’s an event we host at Hofstra, all students are welcome to attend and that can be both a good thing and something that can be hard to manage ... we are talking about people’s experiences and it’s a very personal and emotional event, particularly during the Speak Out,” Zaldivar said.

Prior to the Speak Out, several individuals were invited to come speak to survivors and audience members. Karla Bradley, public affairs and advocacy manager of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, opened the presentation, followed by DJ Rosenbaum, campus education coordinator of Safe Center Long Island. Also included in the talks By Katie Krahulik

Managing Editor

In a vehement attempt to eradicate rape culture, hundreds of Take Back the Night events are held in over 30 different countries each year since the first Take Back the Night took place in Philadelphia in 1975. Several student-run organizations hosted Hofstra’s annual Take Back the Night in the Student Center Theater on the evening of Friday, April 5. Every year the event participants join in a march and rally to vocalize condemnation of sexual assault, domestic abuse and rape; however, organizers said the march was canceled this year due to inclement weather.

However, the Speak Out resumed, which is an open forum for survivors to tell their stories and, as the title instructs, take back the night from their aggressors.

The event was co-hosted by Collegiate Women of Color (CWC), Campus Feminist Collective (CFC), Student Advocates for Safer Sex (SASS) and Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition (QTPOCC).

CFC President Maria Zaldivar, a senior journalism and marketing major, was one of the head organizers of this year’s Take Back the Night.

“I got involved in Take Back the Night my freshman year and as a senior it still means the world to me. As an organizer, I also know that this is not an easy event to put together. We always try to create as safe a space for survivors as possible and I know that the people that organized the event this year really worked hard to make sure that we prioritized survivors since at the end of the day, that’s the point of this whole event. Since it’s an event we host at Hofstra, all students are welcome to attend and that can be both a good thing and something that can be hard to manage ... we are talking about people’s experiences and it’s a very personal and emotional event, particularly during the Speak Out,” Zaldivar said.

Prior to the Speak Out, several individuals were invited to come speak to survivors and audience members. Karla Bradley, public affairs and advocacy manager of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, opened the presentation, followed by DJ Rosenbaum, campus education coordinator of Safe Center Long Island. Also included in the talks were representatives from SEPA Mujer, the Latina immigrant women and girls organization. Dulce Rojas, senior organizer, and Martha Maffei, executive director, spoke on behalf of the organization.

Bradley presented Planned Parenthood’s mission, listing the services offered at Planned Parenthood, including surgical and medical abortion, adoption referrals, birth control, breast and testicular cancer surgeries, cervical cancer detection and treatment, emergency contraception, gynecological exams, pap smears, pelvic exams, HIV testing and counseling, HPV vaccine and testing for pregnancy and STIs.

“Anyone can come to Planned Parenthood to get any kind of care they need. Anyone can come through our door regardless of your gender identity, your sex, your sexuality, your eligibility, your immigration status, you can come to Planned Parenthood and get sexual and reproductive health care because we believe that that is something that should be guaranteed to everyone,” Bradley said, adding that Planned Parenthood has health centers in Hempstead, Glen Cove and Massapequa.

“If you come in through our doors, you pay based on what you can afford, which is really important because we want to make sure that health care is accessible.”

Through the Safe Center Long Island, Rosenbaum reaffirmed the commitment to creating a safe and healthy community for survivors. During the presentation, she explained that the Safe Center has numerous legal services which help survivors get back on their feet after trauma.

“We have advocates who help navigate the court system, go to court, go to the District Attorney’s office, go to family court; someone will be with [survivors] if they want to help them manage that really difficult and sometimes confusing system. [We] walk them through the victim services maze that can be so difficult to figure out on your own – particularly if you’re a survivor,” Rosenbaum said.

“One reason why we’re here is to give you support, but the other reason that we’re here is because we’re on a mission ... It is in line with your mission here with this particular event and during this month of sexual assault awareness. Our goal is like yours. Our goal is to change rape culture and to eradicate sexual violence. Isn’t that your goal, too?”

Dulce Rujes of SEPA Mujer explained the significance of bringing intersectionality into the conversation. “Our focus is Latina women and girls because we have found that in Latin American countries, violence against women ... is higher. I’m sure you have heard of femicides, so this is really why SEPA Mujer exists,” Rujes said. “We offer legal immigration assistance for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, rape and many other types of abuses.”

CWC President Shannon Prevatt, a senior sustainability and geography major, and Vice President of Student Advocates for Safer Sex Dennis Vandunk, a sophomore physician’s assistant student, said this year’s event was moving and overall a success in its effectiveness, despite not having a march.

“I care about this event so much because it’s a topic that so many people know about but don’t want to talk about. The statistics that show how many people either are or know someone that is a survivor of sexual assault are mind boggling and if there was more awareness, people would be less comfortable turning a blind eye to things that don’t personally affect them,” Prevatt said.

Vandunk said that although the turnout was low this year, it only made the event that much more intimate. “The event is so important; if even one survivor shows up and is able to feel comfort, support, and safety in the space the event affords to them I count it as a success.”

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