Take Back the Night, an advocacy group on campus that fights against gendered violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault, is holding a week full of events dedicated to these issues, from April 7 to 11, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The week focuses on events and conversations about gender equality, sexual assault and ways in which students can be actively involved in conversations about these issues.

The week kicked off Monday with the Sexual Assault Peer Educators Pilot Program, an open dialogue capped at 20 students.

“The focus of the event was on issues of consent, rape culture and being better allies to survivors,” TBTN Board member and SAPE member Sarah Rabon (COL ’16) wrote in an email. “This was the first event of its kind at Georgetown. Historically, SAPE trainings have been targeted to specific groups and not open to all students as this one was. It was great to see that students are interested in attending these events.”

Take Back the Night also hosted a movie watch of “My Masculinity Helps,” a documentary about how gender issues relate to sexual assault.

The organization also organized a candle-light vigil in the past to honor survivors’ experiences. In addition, “It Happens Here” honors the stories of sexual assault of Georgetown survivors by listening to anonymous stories.

“It was an extremely powerful event. From the moment stories began being read, I think all of the attendees were speechless. I personally was struck by a particular trend I noted in the stories — a startling number of survivors would preface their stories with the disclaimer that they were not raped or sexually assaulted, but then would proceed to go into a story of how they were, in fact, assaulted,” Olivia Hinerfeld (SFS ’17) said. “This demonstrated to me that there seems to be a very prevalent culture of survivor shame on campus. Together, we need to make survivors feel empowered, rather than feel denial and embarrassment.”

The Georgetown Student Association and several students in the Georgetown community supported the event.

“This event shows GU students that even if you haven’t been personally affected, sexual assault does happen on this campus and we all have a role in helping to prevent it,” GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) said in a press release.

In addition to dialogues and reflection, the week included a pizza party Thursday evening. The event celebrated allies in the fight against gendered violence and emphasized the importance of self-care.

The final event of Take Back the Night Week is Denim Day, a day celebrated worldwide in April.

Denim Day originated from a decision made in an Italian Supreme Court in which the judges believed the assault was consensual since the survivor wore tight jeans when she was assaulted and therefore must have aided her perpetrator in taking them off. Denim Day stands in solidarity with the survivor and shows that there is no excuse for sexual assault.

On Friday, Take Back the Night and Sexual Assault Peer Educators will hand out stickers that say “Ask Me, Why Denim?” and run a photo campaign.

Take Back the Night President Haley Maness (NHS ’15) was very pleased with the support for the week this year and hopes the conversations continue beyond Friday.

“I think that sexual assault is conversation that makes people really uncomfortable,” Maness said. “Something like Take Back the Night and SAPE are so important because it reframes these conversations. … You as a person can actively change [the culture] and I think that’s really powerful.”

 

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