UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | June 18, 2024

Take Back the Night opens conversation at Dixie State

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Take Back the Night brought together survivors of sexual assault to shed light on a dark matter.

Take Back the Night had its annual event Nov. 7.

History assistant professor Joel Lewis has been involved with Take Back the Night for almost twenty years. Take Back the Night started in 1973 in Belgium. Belgian women were attacked on the streets at night. Take Back the Night was their way of fighting against sexual violence. Since then, it’s become an international movement.

DSU’s Take Back the Night consisted of two poets, a folk singer, a candlelight vigil and representatives from the Dove Center and the Health and Wellness Center. The night concluded with a private meeting called Speak Out where survivors talked about their experiences with sexual assault.

Community member Skye Warburton performed an excerpt from “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler.

“It’s basically about, it’s quite brutal actually, a woman who gets gang raped and abused by a bunch of soldiers,” Warburton said.

“Utah, in terms of sexual assault, has some of the highest statistics in the nation,” Lewis said. “The national average of a woman being a victim of sexual assault by the age 18 is one in four. Utah is one in three.”

According to the Utah Department of Health Rape and Sexual Assault section, a 2007 Utah survey said one in three Utah women will experience some form of sexual violence during their lives.

Lewis said the reason he believes Utah is statistically high is because of the silence around the subject.

“I think it’s because in Utah… people are very uncomfortable talking about sex or sexuality,” Lewis said. “In particular, most aspects of sexual violence are typically happening within the family unit. People are afraid to come forward (and) to talk about it.”

Lewis said he wants people who come to the event, who have not experienced sexual assault, to become aware of how prevalent it is in their community.                              

Lewis said he wants the people who have been involved with sexual assault to know they’re not alone and to feel empowered.

Warburton said sexual abuse needs awareness.

“So many people I know have been sexually abused, so I feel like it’s important to get the awareness out there,” Warburton said. “There are other people out there. The speak out part is my favorite one. Everyone tells their stories. It’s a load off their chest, really. People have so much guilt wrapped up in it. It’s nice to get it out there.”

Candice Gary, a sophomore biology major from Salt Lake City, said she was disappointed Utah’s statistics were higher than other states. 

Gary said almost all females she knows have been sexually assaulted in some way.

Lewis said the main problem is silence.

“The problem with not talking about things openly is, No. 1, people who have gone through these things don’t have the opportunity to realize there are others out there…,” Lewis said. “No. 2 those who perpetrate these acts of violence feel a sense of security when communities are silent.”