PAWS’ Take Back the Night Supports Survivors

Published 4 weeks ago - 2


By Nick Sposato, Staff Writer

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Peers Advocating Wellness for Students (PAWS) hosted Take Back the Night on Friday, October 22.

Take Back the Night (TBTN), an event held in over a thousand communities each year, shows support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It shines a light on these crimes, which often go unreported, and offers a safe space for survivors to share their experiences.

As Breanna LaHair, PAWS Vice-President, put it, TBTN “allows survivors to feel supported, listened to, and advocated for. On the other hand, this event allows for allies to better understand the depth of what a survivor needs and how we can do better.”

This year, TBTN was held in the Tsotsis ballroom, which was decorated to reflect the night’s topic. Tables covered in purple table-clothes, purple being the color for domestic violence awareness, were placed throughout the room. LED lights sat at the center of each table, providing ambience while also symbolizing the hope and encouragement at the heart of TBTN.

The evening was divided into two parts. For the first half, various members of the Assumption community shared poems and expressed their thoughts on domestic violence. Speakers included students from several clubs on campus as well as student leaders and student athletes. Kylie O’Rourke, Assumption alum and former PAWS executive, and Conway Campbell, Vice President for Student Success, spoke as well.

For the second half of TBTN, students were able to share their experiences and/or messages of support and encouragement. Assumption faculty and staff were asked to leave the room, so as to provide a confidential safe space for survivors to share their stories.

Reflecting on the impact of TBTN, Madison Roy, president of the Women’s Studies Club, explained that it “made [her] feel like [she] wasn’t alone. It was a safe place to share amongst survivors and supporters.”

Bella Baker, PAWS’ Graphic Design Executive, expressed why events like TBTN are essential: “Far too often voices of survivors are silenced and it is through events like these that we can be sure to foster change. She went on to add that “taking a stand against violence as a whole is a community effort.”

Kaitlin Durkin, PAWS’ President, has now been involved with three TBTN events at Assumption. She described how the event has impacted her: “As a survivor myself, Take Back the Night has been the one campus event where I finally feel seen for both the pain I have

experienced but also for my courage and resilience. I know many other survivors on this campus feel similar ways.”

When asked how we can best support survivors, Durkin explained that educating everyone on the proper response to someone’s disclosure is key. “This includes saying things like, ‘I believe you,’ ‘I support you,’ and ‘thank you for telling me.’ ” In addition to this, “we need to dismantle these systems in place that fail to believe survivors and choose to protect perpetrators.”

While Domestic Violence Awareness Month may be over, there is still work to be done. We all play a part in fostering a campus environment that encourages survivors to come forward. Anyone looking for confidential support can contact Marie Vazquez, Assumption’s Campus Advocate, at 508-767-7641 or at m.vasquez@assumption.edu.

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