A circle of candles held in silence by survivors of sexual and domestic violence and their allies. This was the sight Thursday night in front of the Monroe County Courthouse at the Feminist Student Association at IU's annual Take Back the Night silent march and vigil.
Take Back the Night is a volunteer-based global effort to combat sexual violence and abuse against women, according to its website. Take Back the Night partners with organizations all over the world to work toward the end of sexual violence.
Take Back the Night events have been organized across the United States since 1975 and in Bloomington since 1977. Katie Koestner, the first woman in the United States to publically come out as a victim of campus date rape in 1990, brought together different groups practicing Take Back the Night events under one foundation in 2001, according to the foundation’s website.
“The silent march is really important because it allows us to stand in solidarity with everyone who is still silenced,” said Zubia Rauf, FSA president, IU graduate student and survivor of sexual assault.
This year’s march was cold and rainy, but a small group still gathered in Dunn Meadow to hear speakers and learn more information about resources and communities for people who have survived sexual violence and those who promote safe sex activities.
Groups included the Sexual Health Advocacy Group, Middle Way House and the Monroe County Indiana Chapter of the National Organization for Women.The organizations were all given the opportunity to share information about their group and what Take Back The Night means to them.
“Take Back the Night is such an evocative rally cry,” said Evelyn Smith, speaker for All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center. “It lays a grievance at the feet of everyone who has ever made us feel unsafe in our own communities after dark.”
After the speeches, attendees silently marched down Kirkwood Avenue to the Monroe County Courthouse for the candlelight vigil.
Ellie Johnson is a senior who founded Shatter the Silence, a group formed to support survivors and promote safety and ethical action in higher education. Johnson formed Shatter the Silence in August 2018 after publicly criticizing IU for its sexual misconduct policies and filing a Title IX complaint against the university.
“Even if you haven’t experienced sexual assault, every single one of you is brave,” Johnson said to those assembled at the courthouse.