The month of April is observed as sexual assault awareness month. Each year, hundreds of events are held in over 30 countries for the international Take Back the Night (TBTN) event, generally during the month of April, according to the TBNT website. The event has the mission of putting an end to sexual violence.
Pitt State’s Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) will host a Take Back the Night event from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday April 29 at Gorilla Village on campus.
“The event will bring awareness to the topic of sexual assault that happens in our community to students, faculty, staff and the resources available..,” said SVP advisor Stephanie Spitz, campus victim’s advocate. “…to bring awareness to that is one step and to talk about the prevention is the other part of the heart of this event.”
The event will provide information about sexual violence and resources to help victims of sexual violence.
“…sexual violence is not about sex,” Spitz said. “It’s about someone wanting to have power and control over somebody else and do that in a way that fits best for them. Someone who’s experiences that loss of power, that loss of control, that loss of their identity and how they move forward and that healing processes crucial and we want to showcase the people who are there for support and we want to help with those prevention tactics in our community.”
The event will feature a variety of guess speakers.
“…having speeches from law enforcement, SANE nurses, advocates, people who are doing direct services with these individuals that have experienced trauma, violence, things of that nature are critically important because when it comes to sexual violence there are things we can prevent,” Spitz said.
Campus advocates and counsellors will also be present at the event. PSU’s poetry club will also be there to perform poetry and there will be spaces for people to share stories or resources about sexual assault.
The event will also be an opportunity to donate to the Safehouse Crisis Center, who will be present as well.
“We’re going to have the Safehouse Crisis center There… to share their resources as well as the counselling resources,” said SVP student coordinator Kristen Horyna.
A candlelight vigil will also be held for those whose lives have been lost or touched by sexual assault and violence.
“I think it will be a very emotional night and there will be a lot of feelings of uncomforted because of how deep it is… we definitely will also have advocates there who can console people and talk it through with people,” Horyna said.
Spitz said there is a lot to gain from attending the event, and that it should have a lasting impact.
“They should expect genuine conversations and resources, I would hate for someone to come to this event and not leave with hope, resources, and sharing this information with others,” Spitz said. “These should be conversations that continue and are not just to happen here this one moment in time.”
Although the event will feature heavy content, Spitz said the event should provide hope for those in attendance.
“You should expect to be upset… people should be upset when they come to this event,” Spitz said. “Sexual violence is an upsetting topic, but when you leave you will leave with hope, motivation to make change, tools for activism, resources, and support so we can enact change so we don’t have to continue doing take back the nights for decades begging, asking, screaming for support.”
Megan Woodfield, SVP co advisor, said there will be many benefits to attending the event.
“I think the biggest benefit for people will be Take Back the Night is the atmosphere that is created, the whole thing is designed to be very empowering, very supportive of survivors, while also being educational so just the ability to be in a space of people who are very open minded, very supportive and who are trying to make positive changes not only in our campus community but the in the Pittsburg community at large is going to be very powerful for those in attendance,” Woodfield said.
Those in attendance will also have the opportunity to win prizes through a raffle. There is no limit for attendance, and the event is open to PSU students, faculty, staff as well as to community members. Attendees are asked to wear a mask to the event.
“We’re just hoping anyone on the campus community and otherwise will show up and learn a little bit more, get some free stuff, and help us make some change,” Spitz said.