Five survivors shared their stories of rape, domestic violence and sexual and verbal abuse at the annual Take Back the Night Oct. 6.
The Take Back the Night program was approximately an hour long and included performances “Gone but Not Forgotten,” a candlelight march and the Clothesline Project.
Take Back the Night is hosted every year by the Women’s Center at Murray State to allow men and women across campus to take a stand against sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, relationship violence and stalking.
Jane Etheridge, director of the Women’s Center, said the stories told by the five survivors were inspiring.
“Their stories are the most important part of the program, to witness their raw emotion and feelings,” she said.
Etheridge said there isn’t a single goal of Take Back the Night but there are several ways the event sheds light on sexual violence.
Some were to illuminate the serious issues, to dispel myths about the crimes, validate and support the victims by standing together to protest violence, she said.
Upon entering Cutchin Field, students, faculty and community members saw “Gone but Not Forgotten,” a series of chairs placed around the field to showcase the lives of 97 rape and murder victims since 2008 in Kentucky.
Organizers call the event “Gone but Not Forgotten” to remember the innocent lost.
“‘Gone but Not Forgotten’ isn’t about the women who have been murdered,” Amber Marable, senior from Waverly, Tenn., and student worker at the women’s center, said. “The point is to showcase their lives. They weren’t just victims; they had real lives.”
Following “Gone but Not Forgotten,” attendees sat down in front of a stage on the field to watch performances done in honor of the survivors.
There were approximately 700 people who attended the event, and they watched people perform poetry, dance and the five survivors give their testimonies.
After all the performances were done, the candlelight march started.
Women carrying roses and men carrying lit candles started at the edge of Cutchin Field, up the street behind Carr Health and the Waterfield Library and turning around walking the strip to the Curris Center.
“The purpose of the candlelight march was to take a stand for victims, because rape can happen anywhere at any time,” Marable said.
The march ended at the Curris Center where the Clothesline Project was held.
The Clothesline Project is a way for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt, and hanging them for others to see.
“The shirts are created by victims of abuse with the purpose of telling their stories and sending a message,” Marable said.
More than 150 shirts hang in the Curris Center representing the victims, Etheridge said.
At least three people shared the traumatic events that happened to them on this campus thanks to the Take Back the Night event, Etheridge said.
The Women’s Center will hold another event Oct. 24 through 28 called Crazy in Love which will also have “Gone but Not Forgotten.”
“Never doubt a small room of thoughtful citizens can change this world, because in truth it is the only thing that ever does,” Etheridge said.