Multiple Santa Barbara groups will unite next week to bring the crimes of rape and sexual assault to the community’s attention.
Santa Barbara’s chapter of Take Back the Night, an annual worldwide movement which seeks to promote awareness of rape and sexual assault, will begin a week of workshops and presentations Monday. The events begin with a noon kickoff rally in Storke Plaza featuring Butcheek Doofus, and culminate at Thursday’s march, beginning in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park.
Take Back the Night originated almost 30 years ago in Belgium and has since become a worldwide celebration. Santa Barbara’s chapter is run by UCSB students and sponsored by both campus and countywide groups. Tara Goddard, co-chair of Santa Barbara’s Take Back the Night, said the week’s two goals are to increase awareness of the reality of sexual assault and to ultimately help to put an end to sexual offenses in the community.
“In the long run, we would like to see an end to sexual assault. In the short run, we want to wake up the community to certain issues and widen the definition of sexual assault,” she said. “Rape is not just a scary man coming out of the dark. It is acquaintance rape, same-sex rape, incest.”
On Tuesday at 1 p.m., a panel made up of law enforcement officers, rape survivors and a representative from the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center will answer questions in the MultiCultural Center. Program Committee Chair Stephanie Molen said she encourages students to take advantage of the opportunity to speak with the panel.
“I think that it would be very beneficial to students if they went and asked questions about rape. It will let them have a stronger understanding of what it means to be raped,” she said.
Independent performers from Isla Vista and Santa Barbara County will entertain viewers Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the MultiCultural Center. Beginning at 10 p.m., after the performances, there will be an open mic period.
On Wednesday, at 3:30 p.m., the Rape Crisis Education Group will reenact the process of a rape trial at the MultiCultural Center. Molen said the mock trial is meant to be a tool to inform the community about the realities of rape.
“It will be very educational. It will show how different lines can be crossed and how different factors, like alcohol, play a role in rape,” she said.
The week will conclude with a rally in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park on Thursday at 5 p.m. The rally will feature speaker Alix Olson and several musical performances. At 9 p.m., candles will be handed out and female participants will proceed to march around the streets of I.V.
“While the men stay and talk about rape culture in the park, the women march through I.V.,” Molen said. “People usually hear us, and any woman who wants to join us is welcomed.”
Goddard said the week is meant to promote discussion in the community.
“Take Back the Night is a forum for women to protest the culture of rape and fear that we live in. Men have this forum for 364 days a year,” she said. “This is a forum for discussion. We welcome and encourage discussion.”
The week is sponsored by the UCSB Women’s Center, A.S. Women’s Commission, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Rape Prevention Education Program, Men Against Rape, Students Stopping Rape and Fighting Back.