I struggled about what I wanted to say exactly in response to Ken Hamner’s Wednesday column “Take back the night? From whom? And give it to who?” As a third-year member and former co-chair of Campus Women’s Alliance, I feel I am much more qualified to speak on the effectiveness and reasoning behind this very important event.
I was offended Hamner tried to avoid negative feedback by his so-called disclaimer at the beginning of his piece in which he wrote he supported the event – but then proceeded to write the rest of the article in a very pessimistic and accusing tone. I’d like to take this time to respond to some of the heinous assumptions and questions he posed.
As for the audience of the event, despite what Hamner presumed, the event is largely for the very people who attend it. One of the most important parts of Take Back the Night is to provide a forum for survivors of sexual assault and abuse to share their stories, create solidarity and to make suggestions to others about what they found helpful during their recovery. Oftentimes, it is enough for someone to hear another speak up about their assault to come forward and seek counseling, shelter or police services for themselves. Which brings me to the effectiveness of Take Back the Night.
If we convinced one person that their victimization was not their fault, or one person to be more cautious about who they trust, or one person to get counseling after being victimized, to me, Take Back the Night was a success.
The main point of Take Back the Night is not to stop the occurrence of sexual victimization in Fort Collins, which, while this would be wonderful, is not at all likely (at least Hamner got something right in his piece). Take Back the Night is about sharing, supporting and seeking out extra community resources for those affected by this horrible social problem. That is why we also made it a point to have several wonderful counselors from Larimer County’s Sexual Assault Victims Assistance Team (SAVA) available on site.
And what’s wrong with increasing public awareness, Mr. Hamner? If you call the simple public reporting of assaults “awareness,” then that is where your problem starts. The kind of awareness Take Back the Night makes possible is useful to community members each day in their own lives; we provide information on how to safely secure your doors and windows, what counseling and support services are available in Fort Collins, and what to do if you or someone you know has been assaulted.
Now that’s what I call “action.”
To conclude, I’d like to personally invite Mr. Hamner to attend Take Back the Night next year – or better yet, to grace us with his brilliance in making the event worthwhile. For the 12 members who worked so hard to make sure Take Back the Night took place another year at CSU – my unfaltering thanks (you know who you are). You all mean so much to me. For the rest of CSU and the Fort Collins community who made this year’s event the best it could be, you did make a difference. Keep up the good work.
Lindsey Young is a senior majoring in consumer and family studies.