Take Back The Night reinforces assault awareness

Emily Harris/The News
Take Back The Night was held Monday in the CFSB Center and included speakers including survivors and university leaders.Emily Harris/The News Take Back The Night was held Monday in the CFSB Center and included speakers including survivors and university leaders.

Story by Ashley TraylorStaff writer

Emily Harris/The News Take Back The Night was held Monday in the CFSB Center and included speakers including survivors and university leaders.

Emily Harris/The News
Take Back The Night was held Monday in the CFSB Center and included speakers including survivors and university leaders.

Monday’s Take Back the Night consisted of personal testimonies from assault victims, a pledge to take action against these crimes and a call to action by President Bob Davies.

Take Back the Night has a “purpose of uniting campus community and taking a stand against sexual assault and promoting active participation of each campus and community member in creating a culture of respect,” said Clint Combs, Student Government Association president and emcee of Take Back the Night.

Most sexual assaults – 90 percent – are not committed by strangers, but by someone the victim knows, and it can happen in relationships, friendships and marriages.

Emily Harris/The News Hannah Barney, left, speaks about how it can be difficult for sexual assault survivors to speak up. Shirts, like the one on the right, were displayed around the CFSB Center, encouraged students to find their voice and tell their stories.

Emily Harris/The News
Hannah Barney, left, speaks about how it can be difficult for sexual assault survivors to speak up. Shirts, like the one on the right, were displayed around the CFSB Center, encouraged students to find their voice and tell their stories.

Davies said these victims are students we see in class, on campus and our friends.

The rally opened with a personal account of a Murray State sexual assault survivor, read by the Wellness Center’s Fitness Coordinator Brittney Stinnett.

The survivor wrote of how her relationship with a man and later husband turned from romantic to threatening and that she was completely controlled by him.

“I slowly realized I was living my life in fear,” Stinnett read. “This was not the kind of life I wanted for my daughter but felt powerless to change.”

The survivor’s perpetrator was her husband and father to her two children. She said she felt scared to call the cops, and she did not know why “no” did not mean “no” to him.

After she escaped her relationship, she moved to Tennessee and her husband was charged with rape and sentenced to six years in prison.

“I want others to know they can do it too,” read Stinnett. “I took my journey alone. You don’t have to.”

Hannah Barney, a survivor of sexual assault and the residence director of Clark Residential College, said she questioned whether she caused it, but she said everyone should understand these doubts are lies because she did nothing to imply she wanted it.

She said she is not a “slut,” “damaged” or “unlovable” and she did not want it.

“Going through sexual violence can take you to a deep, dark place that’s hard to get out of,” Barney said. “When you fall into that hole, it’s so easy to think you’re alone.”

Survivors and victims of sexual assault are not alone, Barney said. They are loved. They do not need to be fixed. They have a story, and they choose what to do with it, she said.

Emily Harris/The News Hannah Barney, left, speaks about how it can be difficult for sexual assault survivors to speak up. Shirts, like the one on the right, were displayed around the CFSB Center, encouraged students to find their voice and tell their stories.

Emily Harris/The News
Hannah Barney, left, speaks about how it can be difficult for sexual assault survivors to speak up. Shirts, like the one on the right, were displayed around the CFSB Center, encouraged students to find their voice and tell their stories.

Davies said the campus community needs to take action against sexual assault, since one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted on college campuses.

Murray State has resources such as the LiveSafe app to report sexual assaults and Public Safety and Emergency Management to respond to assaults.

“We must be the solution, not the problem,” Davies said.

He said everyone works together to prevent these assaults, and there are no innocent bystanders. We must have the strength to support and intervene to help the survivor know they are not alone.

“This isn’t just on survivors to take a stand,” Barney said. “It’s on all of us.”