Out of the dark — Take Back the Night educates, empowers
At least one in four college women will be the victim of a sexual assault crime during her academic career, according to 200 report from the National Institute of Justice. In at least half of these cases, alcohol is a factor. College is a place that is supposed to improve students’ lives, not ruin them. The idea behind the Take Back the Night event at the University of Idaho is that a majority of these crimes can be prevented.
UI has hosted Take Back the Night for many years to educate the campus and community about sexual violence, and violence committed against underrepresented members of the community. Thursday’s event features guest speaker Latah County Deputy Prosecutor for Domestic Violence Mia Vowels, a candlelit march and an open mic event.
If we as students should take something away from the silhouettes and night march on campus, it is that we need to pay closer attention. The fact is that sexual assault can happen to anyone — it happens to more than 200,000 people every year, which is one person every two minutes in the U.S.
Seventy percent of rape victims know their attacker, compared to about half for other violent crimes. University of Idaho graduate student Katy Benoit knew her killer, former UI assistant professor Ernesto A. Bustamante, as well. These crimes might happen most often at night, but they cannot be allowed to stay in the dark.
The fact that a social stigma surrounds sexual crimes does more to ensure these crimes keep happening more than nearly any other factor. Less than a third of rape victims ever report the rape to the police.
If we are going to change this mentality, and truly take back the night for good, we have to change the way we look at sexual assault as a culture.
It is never OK to have sex against your will. As college students, we are the ones who will one day be responsible for the entire country. We have an obligation to ourselves and our peers to be loud and unwavering in our opposition of sexual assault.
Take Back the Night is an opportunity to show our resolve as a community to condemn acts of violence, no matter who they are committed toward. It is a chance to unite in support of those who have survived violence and to become educated to prevent it from happening in the future.
Sexual violence is not a problem we can allow to slink back into the shadows of the night. Watch out for each other and watch out for yourself.