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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Take Back the Night rallies in spite of rain

Sean Reed
Members of the Women and Gender Advocacy Alliance stand on stage in the Duke Ellington Ballroom. The alliance hosted its annual event, Take Back the Night, on Wednesday. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Survivors of sexual and domestic assault spoke out about their experiences during the annual Take Back the Night event in the Duke Ellington Ballroom. 

The Take Back the Night protest, hosted by the Women and Gender Advocacy Alliance, rallied students against sexual and domestic violence.

Due to bad weather, the event was held in the Duke Ellington Ballroom instead of a march in the MLK Commons. 

The event was meant to foster togetherness and spread awareness about sexual assault and its impact on others’ lives.

Monica Maravilla, a graduate student, spoke about the event’s significance. 

“The event means a lot to me. I didn’t know what it was until a friend told me about it,” Maravilla said. “And I said, ‘oh, this is, like, a perfect opportunity,’ not in the best way, not in the worst way, but somewhere to tell my story and show, like I said, that there’s a community for those who don’t want to or is too scared to.”

The event started by educating students about the different organizations on and around campus that advocate for individuals who’ve experienced sexual or domestic violence.

The Alliance was joined by PRISM, NIU’s LGBTQA+ student organization, the Reproductive Rights Association and Safe Passage of DeKalb, the city’s only domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center. 

PRISM presented statistics that focused on the heightened amount of sexual assault and violence that occurs to members of the LGBTQA+ community compared to those who are not.

44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women have experienced some form of physical violence and/or stalking from an intimate partner, compared to 35% of straight women, according to a 2010 study by the CDC quoted by Prism.

The organization highlighted a form of assault called “correct a break,” when an assault takes place with the goal of “fixing” someone’s sexuality or gender. 

The event then led to survivors telling their stories about what happened to them. The room was quiet, with no laughs or smiles. Tears were shed during stories, but each speaker was met with support from others.

Once speakers finished, they were always met with applause.

Ariel Owens, the director of Social Justice Education and one of the event coordinators, said she felt the impacts of Wednesday’s stories.

“I think it’s really powerful when strangers can come together for a common cause and to be able to listen to other people,” Owens said. “I think it helps them feel less alone and also be aware of how many people there are to listen to, even if they’re just strangers. And I think it’s really awesome when people can just share a space together, to come together.”   

The event came to a close with a discussion and Q&A about how to help others who experienced sexual assault.

Madison Randle, vice president of the Women and Gender Advocacy Alliance, thought the event supported those who needed it, but the university could push more messages of advocacy.

“I would say for our college campus to bring more awareness to the situation and know that this does happen, and it should not be a taboo topic,” Randle said. “I also think that NIU should take these kind of events more seriously as well.”

Randle hoped everyone who walked away was aware of the resources NIU does offer.

“I would hope the takeaway would be to everybody who attended that if they were ever in a situation like this, that they are not alone, and that there are resources and people at NIU who are very now knowledgeable on how to address these situations,” Randle said.

To find resources for sexual assault, contact Safe Passage at 815-756-5228 or the NIU confidential advisor 815-753-8300.

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