Hampered by low attendance, UR’s College Feminists improvised on their event Take Back the Night and spoke on resources and outlets of help for domestic violence survivors.
“Even though scars fade, we know they never fully disappear, but rest assured we will always be here,” College Feminists member and junior Cindy Lee said to the small crowd of five.
Lee began by introducing the background of Take Back the Night, a worldwide event that occurs on many college campuses during domestic violence awareness week.
Originally, the College Feminists wanted to have survivors share their stories to attendees, but this was not possible due to the low turnout.
After seeing the small crowd, assistant director of education outreach for the Title IX office Tiffany Street emphasized the nature of domestic violence and sexual assault awareness, noting that it is not an easy fix, but a long-term battle that requires continued effort.
“Sometimes you have to give pause and realize you’re not going to save the University overnight,” Street said. “Our goal and outcome always will be to just make sure that students know that they’re supported and have resources.”
Additionally, Street mentioned that low turnouts were not common.
“We host a lot of programs, [and] they go really well,” Street said. ”We have groups where we have 40, 50 people turn out.”
During the event, the prevalence of domestic violence on and off campus was emphasized.
“Even if you believe you don’t know anyone personally, there are probably people in your life, but they don’t feel comfortable telling you,” Emmy LoBrutto, a college advocate and education specialist for RESTORE, said.
LoBrutto elaborated by explaining how her friend in social work had never met anyone affected by sexual assault at the time.
“That same night, we went to a Super Bowl party and one of her friends disclosed [their story] after I told her what my job was,” LoBrutto said.
Most important of all, the message Take Back the Night wanted to convey was for students to be there, listen, and believe the domestic violence survivors out there.
“Sometimes survivors just need that validation, [that] I believe you, I believe what you’re saying and if you’re not okay to report right now or ever, that’s fine,” Street said.
There may be many reasons why domestic violence survivors may choose not to go public, Street explained, including fear, retaliation, victim blaming, and re-traumatization.
LoBrutto encouraged students to make more of an effort to create a safe environment.
“Maybe it’s time for you to reflect on your behaviors, language that you use, and checking to see if that’s victim blaming or if that’s harmful or if that’s not creating a space where someone would feel safe disclosing,” LoBrutto said.
The event closed with attendees marching around the Wilson Quad together with signs against domestic violence.