Take Back the Night raises awareness of domestic violence

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On Wednesday, April 18, SVSU hosted its second annual Take Back the Night in the Student Life Rotunda.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. SVSU’s Student Wellness Programs hosted the event to empower students to become prosocial bystanders and intervene if they think someone is a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

This year, Student Wellness Programs wanted to make the event a concert because they thought it would draw in more people.

Bailey Brown, a criminal justice junior and Sexual Assault Prevention Team (SAPT) intern, planned the event.

“I love the fact that we have local, campus performers,” said Cortney Heileman, the assistant director of Student Wellness Programs. “I’d like to thank them for their time and effort.”

Heileman hopes that events like Take Back the Night will not only educate, but also create a sense of community and encourage people to speak out.

Hosting it at night, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., was an important part of the event. Because women feel unsafe at night, this was a way to reclaim, or take back, that time.

Besides music, a special speaker read survivor stories.

“Last year, it brought people to tears,” Brown said. “It was really powerful.”

Biology sophomore Rebecca Bowen also read letters from Peer Health Education’s Dear Survivor campaign.

The letters empowered survivors and reminded them that they are not alone.

There was also an open mic portion for students who attended the event to talk about why they came, whether it was for personal reasons or to show support.

“One of my favorite parts is the Speak Out for the audience to come up and say why they came,” Heileman said. “You really get to hear from people’s hearts about why this is important to them and why they’d spend their time here.”

Another activity at the event was the Red Flag campaign. The campaign focuses on seeing red flags in abusive relationships and speaking up to help. SAPT handed out red flags to attendees at the spirit rock outside of MJ Brandimore House.

“This will give students the opportunity to be involved in activism, and that’s what SAPT is all about,” Brown said.

Nursing junior Tyler Kwapis sang and played the guitar for Take Back the Night.

“(Participating in Take Back the Night) allowed me an opportunity to learn more about sexual assault on campus and survivor stories,” Kwapis said. “It also allowed me to help create a safe space for women at SVSU.”

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