One survivors T-shirt read, “You might have hurt me then . But I won’t be a victim now.”
Hundreds of CSU students, community members, survivors of sexual assault and their allies flooded the streets of Fort Collins last night as part of the 18th annual “Take Back the Night” march, chanting and supporting signs boasting messages similar to that on the T-shirt. And using those messages, spoke out to advocate for the end of sexual violence and abuse.
“It’s not always easy to be here but it’s important,” said one survivor, whose name was not published to protect their anonymity as a victim of assault. “We did not ask for this. We are begging you to wake up and help us take back the night.”
The CSU Campus Feminist Alliance hosted the event, which draws in thousands of participants each year internationally. This year, participants met in the Sculpture Park west of the Lory Student Center to listen to past victims.
Survivors shared their experiences with sexual assault while tissue boxes were passed around to wipe away tears. Words of reassurance and claps of approval echoed in the night while survivors shared their stories, many for the first time.
Women and men spoke out stressing the importance of remembrance and through their experiences, they hoped to spread empowerment and strength.
After the speak-out, escorted by police officers the crowd took to the streets, chanting, yelling and sharing the importance of knowledge.
The mile long march ended in Old Town where the group was met by a band and three poet-activists, Alex Bartz, Jennifer Pacheco and Isis. Over the microphone the crowd heard, “We’re here to take back the night” as yells of approval and cheering broke out.
“This night isn’t about victims, it’s about survivors,” Isis said.
Lara Adamson, junior human development and family studies major and president of Campus Feminist Alliance, said the event was successful in its original aims.
“(Take Back the Night) was awesome. It had such good energy and the energy in this crowd is outrageous,” Adamson said. “It was everything I had hoped for and the poets were amazing.”
Lexy Hall, a sophomore English major and member of CFA agreed.
“(The event) was really good; everyone was great. It was all just so amazing,” she said.
Although the exact number of the participants was not known, Sarah Cooper, a senior ethnic studies and women studies major and treasurer of the Campus Feminist Alliance, said that it was the best event CFA had ever witnessed.
“A lot of people this year spoke, more than last year. The stories prove that a lot of the myths about rape aren’t true. It usually happens with someone you know and doesn’t happen in a dark alley,” Cooper said. “With their talking about it, they break down those stereotypes about rape.”
Staff writer Justyna Tomtas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.