As Sexual Assault Awareness Month begins to wrap up, we’ve many seen community and student programs drawing attention to the issue of sexual assault and how it can be prevented.
So far this month, Ithaca College has held bystander training sessions, a campus-wide discussion of “It’s On Us,” a survivor panel and more.
Now, there’s one more major event on the agenda — Take Back the Night.
Ithaca Take Back the Night | Courtesy of http://ithacatbtn.weebly.com/media.html
What is TBTN?
Take Back the Night is one of the month’s most notable events. This event is more than just a rally: it’s a speak out, vigil and march that brings the community together to protest sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
TBTN began in the 1970s after a woman in Philadelphia was stabbed to death while walking home alone at night. This inspired women around the world to pull together to create a march that would ideally reclaim the night. Early marches began in places like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, soon
spreading across the country and globe.
The idea was to create an environment where women did not need to fear walking home in the dark because of their sex. Today, while TBTN still stays true to its original mission of reclaiming the night, it also incorporates awareness for issues of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. TBTN is open to people of all genders to create a larger conversation around these issues, which affect not only women, but everyone regardless of gender identity.
Order of Events
Each TBTN features a march of some sort, as people rally together and walk to the site as a group. Once the event official begins, there is a proclamation of some sort, followed by speak-outs from sexual assault survivors and allies. One will often see a display of the local Clothesline Project, an initiative that allows people to express their feelings about sexual assault and intimate partner violence by designing a t-shirt. Some TBTN events — including Ithaca’s — have musical or spoken word performers throughout the night. At the end of the evening, there is a candlelight vigil to remember those lost to sexual violence as well as those who have survived.
The candlelight vigil is a time to reflect on the issue of sexual assault as it stands today. It can be very powerful for TBTN attendees.
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TBTN in Ithaca
Take Back the Night in Ithaca is run by The Advocacy Center of Tompkins County. The event has been around in Ithaca for about 30 years now. Sticking true to the grassroots nature of the event, Ithaca’s TBTN is planned by a group of community members known as the Collective. Anyone with an interest in combatting sexual assault is welcome to serve on the Collective. These individuals meet on a weekly basis to plan everything for TBTN from t-shirt designs to speakers.
This year, the theme of Ithaca’s TBTN is community mobilization. The theme is meant to emphasize the fact that everyone has a role in preventing sexual assault. In a vibrant community like Ithaca, New York, there are plenty of different groups who are able to come together to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. The community mobilization theme recognizes this fact and brings it into the spotlight.
This year’s Ithaca Take Back the Night is scheduled for Friday, April 24, at 7:00 p.m. in Dewitt Park downtown. Residents will have the chance to march down to the park at 5:30 from either Ithaca College, Cornell University or the Greater Ithaca Activities Center.