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Men and women ‘take back the night’

BY MITCHELL AVERY | APRIL 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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More than 50 men and women took to the streets Thursday night carrying signs and chanting to protest sexual abuse and assault that afflict communities all across the country.

“We have the power, we have the right, we will all take back the night,” they shouted.

The annual Take Back the Night event took place on the Pentacrest and continued around downtown Iowa City for nearly three hours during a calm, warm night.

The event gave many women the chance to feel empowered and supported, many in attendance said.
One of the night’s main goals was to give victims the opportunity to talk about past abuses.

“This year, we wanted to make it more open so that everyone could share her different experiences with violence and come together to speak out against it,” said Ashley Trudell, a member of the Women’s Resource and Action Center.

The Iowa Women Initiating Social Change partnered with WRAC to sponsor the event that spoke out against all types of violence in the community, urging people to speak up and “take back the night.”

Both groups strive to create a safer community.

Women should have the freedom to walk down the street safely sober or intoxicated, Trudell said.

In order to make the community safer, everyone must be involved — something that supporters have struggled with since the event was created more than 30 years ago, said Laurie Haag, a WRAC program developer.

“Rape can happen anywhere because predators are everywhere,” said Haag, addressing the Take Back the Night crowd. “That’s why we need to focus on educating the community about how each individual can create a safer environment for everyone. That would include putting the focus on the problem: the violent, offensive, inappropriate, and/or harmful behaviors and attitudes.”

This is something Haag said is different from past years.

Supporters at the event stressed that men are essential in making the environment safer by either speaking out against violence or intervening when they are needed.

Many supporters shared their touching stories Thursday, urging men to step up when they see a woman in danger instead of turning a blind eye.

“I think it’s really important for men to show a presence here,” said Jerrod Koon, a member of the UI Men’s Antiviolence Council. “We do create most of violence, so it’s only right that we would be the ones to stop it.”

As the night ended, Haag looked back to the late-70s, when she first started participating in Take Back the Night.

“I feel bad that we still have to have events such this going on, but then again, it’s also people who share these stories that keeps the movement going,” she said.


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