A night of testimony, music and candlelight brought this year’s Take Back the Night to a close.
Last night, approximately 200 men and women gathered in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. to celebrate the culmination of Take Back the Night – a week dedicated to promoting awareness and prevention of sexual assault and rape. The rally featured musical performances by Joules Graves, Wazani, Ragg, Whiskey Sandwich and Gravity Willing, as well as student poetry readings and testimonials from rape survivors. The night concluded with a candlelight march and chant through Isla Vista.
I.V. adopted the nationwide Take Back the Night celebration in 1977 after three female students were abducted, sexually abused and found dead three months later. The event has since been celebrated annually in order to “protest the current climate of fear and violence that women must confront in today’s society,” according to Take Back the Night’s mission statement.
Tara Goddard, co-chair of UCSB’s Take Back the Night, said she was pleased the community was responsive to efforts invested in the rally.
“This is the best turnout I’ve seen. It’s awesome; we’ve put in blood, sweat and tears. This is so rewarding to see people coming with open minds to listen to the realities that surround us,” she said. “Our hope is to reach all women college students, not just UCSB. We want to reach as many women and people as possible.”
Nick de Sieyes, the lead singer of the all-male band Gravity Willing, said the group felt their performance made a statement about the responsibility of men in preventing sexual assault.
“Our group knows that we have a responsibility as men and as people with microphones to send out the right message. We want to use the spotlight in the right way,” he said.
“You have to realize the position you are in and to make sure you are using your position for the proper causes,” Gravity Willing band member Ross Simonini said. “This is the proper cause.”
UCSB Alumna Amaya Weiss added a personal element when she shared her experiences as a rape survivor to the crowd.
“On December 23, 1998, I was sodomized by my roommate. I screamed and not one of the 17 people downstairs helped me. I was battered and bruised and a part of me died that night,” she said. “The rape was the beginning of a journey. Though a part of me died that night, another part was born.”
Weiss said she hopes describing her experiences will bring people to accept the realities of rape.
“I feel totally liberated telling this story. Its surreal; I was broken and now I’m put back together. I feel mentally stronger than I have in my entire life,” she said. “When I was raped, I didn’t know anyone else. That’s the reason I’m here to tell my story. So when someone hears the word ‘rape’, it’s not just a word, it’s a story – it’s my story.”
Junior English and black studies major Dora Morse said she hopes people will remember the lessons learned at the rally.
“A lot of my friends and women I know here are survivors of rape,” she said. “I hope people here don’t forget that rape happens and tonight will serve as a reminder.”
Gillian Harwin, lead singer of Whiskey Sandwich, said the rally was a unified and empowered demonstration of womanhood.
“I’m wonder-fucking-woman, and I’m here to take back the night,” she said. “It is important to respect all fellow human beings, but we are here tonight to solidify our confidence in our womanhood. I think it’s wonderful we women have come together to be wonder women.”
Junior College of Creative Studies literature major Brett Dewey said the night served to bring Isla Vista together.
“It’s just good to see stuff going here. The point, I think, is to get people out and get a good vibe going on,” he said. “It’s not just a women’s thing, it is for all of us.”
Today at the Women’s Center from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. food and beverages will be provided as participators partake in a “Day of Reflection.”