I Took Back the Night

ImageLast Night I went with my boyfriend and joined about 60 or more girls ( along with 3-4 more guys) to Take Back the Night at UTK campus.

What is Take Back the Night?

You can click the link above for the full information. To Sum it up it is a movement that has grown about protest that started when The first “Take Back the Night” march was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October 1975, after the murder of a microbiologist, Susan Alexander Speeth, who was stabbed to death while walking home alone.

It has grown internationally and to include all violence against women: physical, emotional, and sexual.

I won’t lie when I first decided to go I didn’t think it would have that kind of impact on me. Even though I too am a victim of violence from another man, a man I thought loved me, I wasn’t prepared for all the emotions swirling in side of me.

I got a poster ready. Got a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and headed to Pedestrian Walkway with my boyfriend.

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My Boyfriend and I at Take Back the Night

I saw quite a few girls and not surprisingly very few guys. My boyfriend got a lot of stares. I became really nervous, so did he. The fact that he was one of few guys I think was a little nerve wracking. I was not so much nervous, but anxious. I didn’t know what to expect.

We began our silent march around campus.  A few guys that just happened to walk down pedestrian walkway held up papers mocking us saying, “I’m holding a sign too.” They soon left when they saw police. Cowards.

We walked and we were yelled at, some guy jeered at us from his car. Others from across the street asked what our signs said;  we all turned our signs and showed them. It was great that someone decided that take the long way, we were passing an event that was being held by the torchbearer statue that night.

We passed by the dorms and there were a lot more people. I don’t remember people making a lot of comments or shouting at us here. I really appreciated the UT Police Department being there. We circled around the dorms and made our way towards the library, than to the University Center.

It was a long silent march. I did a lot of thinking during that time. I knew that often that those who had been victims of violence had the opportunity to speak out in confidential forum. I was wondering if I should speak and I kept thinking maybe I would. I still held back though.

When we finally go to the room in the University Center I sat down and I looked up at the stage. There were two microphones. One was labeled media and one was labeled confidential. There was media at the event and since not everyone was comfortable with talking about their experiences, the restrictions was the media can only quote and record the people that were on the media microphone.

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Katie Hnida

We had a great speaker, Katie Hnida, ” She is a pioneer in the world of sports, being the first woman to play, and score points, in a NCAA Division One football game.” She originally played at the University of Colorado. There she was sexually assaulted, emotional abused, and verbally harassed by various teammates. To make matters worse one of her teammates raped her. She kept silent on the matter; feeling afraid and low. She left Colorado and later on went to New Mexico. There she found a place, a home, and a family. Playing football for the New Mexico Lobos (spanish word for wolf). While here she heard about women that began to come forward about being raped by other football players. She came forward with her story and has been an inspiration since.

Kate Hnida with New Mexico Football Team

Katie Hnida with New Mexico Football Team

She spoke first and listening to her story was inspiring and heartbreaking. I could tell my boyfriend was becoming angry when he heard someone of the things she went through.  I went to talk to her at the end of the event (before the candlelight vigil), I had a small one on one with her. She was extremely genuine and a beautiful person, I hope I get to meet her again someday. I can’t wait to read her book.

After she gave her talk, they said the microphone was open to all and they asked everyone to remember the rules about which mic to talk to and how long you can talk. That way everyone had a chance to go. It seemed like forever, but no one moved. I kept looking around and no one moved. I had already decided that I was going to go that day. The more I looked around and saw the reluctance, I knew I was going to be the first to go. My boyfriend told me later he had the same though, “Is Christine going to the be one to go first to get this started?”

I took of my jacket and my scarf. I took a deep breath and I walked up to the stage. Kate Hnida had actually walked up to the stage (her back to me, not seeing me) and asked if anyone would like to volunteer, she stopped halfway through and asked if I would like to. I could only nod. I went up the confidential microphone, I wasn’t and I’m still no ready to share my full story to the world. So, you will not be hearing the whole story from me. Just results of the trauma.

I introduced myself. Explained that I suffer from PTSD as a result. That I have constant anxiety and panic attacks from the trauma. My depression, became worse after the incident. I am still afraid to wear dresses and skirts because of my experience. One of the things that helped me the most was that I found someone.I said,  You may say I don’t need anyone to give me validation and I agree, you are right. But it helped me. It was another stepping stone to healing. It was all thanks to a man, (I indicated to my boyfriend in the audience, one of the few guys there), who said he loved me for me. That my appearance was just the added bonus. I talked some more and I said Thank You.

I got an applause. Now soon after that those that were in charge of the event asked the audience to say ,”We Support You” instead of clapping. Personally I’m glad they clapped. It felt like they were saying thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for going first. Thank you for working through your fear. We are proud of you. We are sorry for what you went through. Stay Strong. Stay beautiful. Keep Fighting.

Katie Hnida was in the front row while I spoke. From all the faces I saw in the audience I saw my boyfriend and her, the rest were all the blur. She was so sweet. Having her react in horror to my story, to know that a stranger feels/knows/believes that what I went through was and is wrong. It was having someone else validate that. Not needed, but another step towards healing that will stay with me. It’s nice knowing that I’m not the only one that believes it was wrong.

After that I of course had to leave the room. I met the College psychologist/counselor that was there on hand in case this kind of thing happened. I talked with her. Very nice and kind. I was mostly out of it the rest of the evening after I spoke. It can be very draining emotionally and physically when pouring your heart out. I didn’t go the candlelight vigil they were holding. I was too tired, I needed to rest and be away from lots of people.

It was a great experience. I did not think it would have the impact it did.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you know someone or if you are someone that has experienced violence. I encourage you to go and listen. If you have a story, you don’t have to share it. If you want to though, I encourage you to do just that. If they allow men (not all do, it’s to help the women there feel safe) please do go men.  There are men that have been victims as well. If you haven’t been a victim, be there to show support to the women. After all, it only takes one person to stand up.

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3 thoughts on “I Took Back the Night

  1. Robin Strough

    I realize I am a year late with this comment, but I came across your post looking for pics from our Take Back the Night here in Philadelphia. I am currently a volunteer crisis counselor with Women Organized Against Rape and I help organize the Take Back the Night Philadelphia. This post and you are truly inspiring. I cried while reading and smiled when you mention the love of a man who thinks how you look is a bonus ! I hope you will continue to heal and be able to speak about what you’ve been through. You have a way with words, use your voice and use it loud. Best wishes to you, you have touched my heart.

    Reply
    1. myrenaissance Post author

      Thank you 🙂 I always welcome comments, no matter how late it seems. That is really sweet of you. Thank you again for taking time to read the post and comment on it.

      Reply

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