Denton residents “Take Back the Night” on the Square

Denton residents “Take Back the Night” on the Square

Denton residents “Take Back the Night” on the Square
April 09
17:23 2018

More than 100 members of the Denton community gathered at the Square Thursday evening to advocate for survivors of sexual violence as part of UNT’s annual Take Back the Night event.

Take Back the Night, an educational event to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault, took place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and was part of UNT’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. The month of April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Embrace Your Voice.”

Changing locations for the event

Hillarye Hightower, the director of the Denton Prevention Education and Awareness Program, partnered with UNT’s Survivor Advocate Renee McNamara, Amy Allison of Texas Woman’s University and Roxanne Del Rio of North Central Texas College to put together this year’s event.

“We began meeting last fall to start planning this,” Hightower said. “This event has typically taken place on [UNT’s] campus the last couple of years, and we thought we might join in solidarity with the community to try to have it at a more centralized location so that it wasn’t just available for UNT students, faculty and staff.”

Social work junior Ashley Tetteh has attended Take Back the Night three years in a row and said she thought this year’s crowd was the largest yet.

“In past years when I’ve gone it has just been at UNT, whereas now I see people from TWU — I see people from the community, which is really great,” Tetteh said. “So, I’m liking branching out to the Square and involving more people than just the UNT campus, because sexual assault happens everywhere so everyone should be involved.”

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Take Back the Night participants listen to speakers talk about their personal experiences with sexual assault and related experiences. The event is hosted on the Square in Denton Texas.
[Photos by Omar Gonzalez]

A message to marchers

TWU alumna Edyka Chilomé was one of the first to address the crowd, talking about her numerous experiences with sexual assault including incest as a child, harassment by professors and being date-raped just last year.

“As an adult, I have been date raped, and I continue to bear the weight of what feels like constant sexual harassment in professional settings, on the streets, on public transit and standing outside of my home,” Chilomé said. “As a queer woman of color who lives on the intersections of so many identities that are targeted for violence in this reality show of a country, the war feels endless.”

Chilomé continued with words of hope and support for fellow survivors.

“Yet, miraculously, so does the momentum and rhythm that I feel here today,” Chilomé said. “It is a rhythm that keeps us moving, that keeps showing up, that keeps demanding the right to do more than just survive. At a time of rampant violence of all kinds […] here we are.”

Following several speakers, attendees led a march around the Square, chanting statements such as ‘No more silence, no more violence,’ ‘People unite, take back the night’ and ‘I won’t be shamed, I won’t be blamed.’

As sunset came attendees were provided with tea-light candles to hold up during a moment of silence. The candlelight vigil marked the end of the event.

“I came to show support because I think that a lot of the times this issue is really underscored,” communications junior Matthew Hernandez said. “It’s one of those things that people don’t really show enough care or awareness about.”

How sexual assault affects the Denton community

The Denton Record-Chronicle recently reported that the incidence of reported rape in Denton is significantly higher than both the state and national rates, using data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system. However, the article did note that the statistics should not take the data “at face value,” since higher reports may “mean people feel more comfortable reporting sexual violence.”

From 2014 to 2016 there were 32 rapes, an additional four cases of statutory rape and 20 cases of fondling reported on the UNT campus, according to the 2017-18 Annual Fire and Safety Report. Data from 2017 will be released later this year.

In 2018 alone, there have been five sexual assaults reported on campus so far, according to the UNT 60-Day Crime Report.

Organizations showcased their resources with tabling

Denton County Friends of the Family, TWU, UNT Survivor Advocates and NCTC were among the seven tables outside the Courthouse, each offering something different.

One booth was handing out teal shirts that read “Take Back the Night,” accompanied by the Courthouse on the Square and the moon in the background. The sponsors of the event were featured on the back.

The table for UNT Survivor Advocates, helmed by intern and anthropology senior Whitney Workman, was handing out small succulent plants, bluebonnet seeds and tiny oak trees. Workman said the idea stemmed from a combination of horticulture therapy and self-care.

Future events

A Cup of Prevention on April 19 is an all-day event at local participating coffee shops.

Denim Day will be observed April 25, and participants will wear denim with a purpose to “support survivors and educate yourself and others about sexual assault.”

For more information on these events or upcoming community workshops, visit the  Denton County Friends of the Family at dcfof.org/saam.

Featured Image: Marchers at Take Back the Night walk around the Square in Denton. Take Back the Night is an international event with the mission to ending relationship, sexual and domestic violence. Omar Gonzalez

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel is currently the News Editor at the North Texas Daily, and previously served as a staff writer from June 2017 to May 2018.

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1 Comment

  1. Cyd
    Cyd May 22, 03:33

    I survived an attack by two men. And fortunately I was able to see Justice served. I would like to get involved in any way I can if you can contact me I’d appreciate it thank you

    Reply to this comment

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