My name is Sadyra Martinez and I currently serve at UTEC as the AmeriCorps Social Justice Specialist. In honor of sexual assault awareness month, I had the opportunity to attend my first Take Back the Night (TBTN) event here in Lowell on April 27th, and it was a powerful experience. This annual event was coordinated by the 2017 Take Back the Night Lowell Committee, which included many members from our partners at The Center for Hope and Healing (CHH).
Take Back the Night is an international movement designed to raise awareness around sexual assault and other forms of gender violence, especially against women. This year’s TBTN event was promoted as “a call to action to build respectful relationships and create safe communities by ending sexual violence in all forms including sexual assault, dating, and domestic violence.” Over the years it has evolved into an event in which survivors and allies come together to share and support each other’s stories, experiences, and feelings of outrage.
On the evening of the 27th, the weather was mild as a diverse mix of people, both women and men, gathered at City Hall to kick off Lowell’s Take Back the Night. From there, participants marched in an orderly fashion over to UMass Lowell‘s University Crossing plaza where the rally took place. A microphone was made available for anyone who wanted to speak, to bear witness, and many folks did.
For me, having not experienced this event before, it was powerful and, yes, even empowering. Some women shared their stories for the first time, bravely giving voice to something very personal and, so often, harrowing. Other women who spoke explained that this was their third or, perhaps, fifth time sharing their story, but no matter, the effect on the audience was the same; everyone remained quiet and listened closely to all the speakers. Many people clearly seemed moved by their stories; I know I was.
This year’s event was designed to send out the unambiguous message to “Shatter the Silence [and] Stop the Violence.” During this early spring night in Lowell, the silence was definitely shattered and that message, that we must stop the violence, came through loud and clear. I’m very much looking forward to next year’s Take Back the Night and genuinely hope that more and more women (and men!) will do the same.
Source: Lowell Sun