Other voices: Unite tonight to bring end to domestic violence
Join Nevada County in uniting to end domestic violence at the annual Take Back the Night Walk and Candlelight Vigil downtown Grass Valley today, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., to begin October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many people wonder what Take Back the Night means, can we really end domestic violence with a community gathering, is this just an event for those involved in social services and will people think I am a man hater if I attend the vigil?
Here is some background on how Take Back the Night originated. Rallies and candlelight vigils reclaiming the night began in Europe in the late 1970s as a protest against rape and other acts of violence against women. The first march in Belgium was organized in 1976 by women attending the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. Also, in 1976, in Rome, as an outcry against the enormous number of rapes, a Take Back the Night rally occurred. In 1977, West Germany and England held candlelight vigils in response to violence perpetrated against women. The first Take Back the Night rally in the United States took place in San Francisco in 1978 by Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media as a call to action against the sexual subordination of women. Women from India, Ireland, Holland, Australia and countries worldwide marched in order to reclaim the night.
Originally, the word “night” was to be taken literally regarding the fear that women face at night. Now it has transformed to symbolize the fear of violence. Throughout the world, communities organize Take Back the Night vigils as a way to speak out and stand up against violence. These internationally organized rallies were the foundation for expanding community awareness as prevention and other campaigns against violence.
Women are often told we should not walk alone at night, we should be careful about what we wear, whom we speak to, where we go, and we should not take rides from men we do not know. The world is full of crazy bad people, out to get us simply because we are female. What is that kind of message saying? That because we are women, we are subject to harassment, assault and violence. That men out there, any man, possibly all men, have a tendency to uncontrollably force themselves on us and face no consequences. This removes all responsibility for violence from those that perpetrate violence and perpetuate atrocities. It points the finger at the victim – what she should have done differently to stop the assailant’s actions.
The attitude of placing blame on the victim creates a great sense of distrust among men and women. When one in four young women have been in abusive relationships, when one in three women have been sexually assaulted, men often encounter women who are struggling with trauma, which makes it difficult for women to trust and develop healthy relationships with men who could be seen as potential perpetrators.
Many men who grow up in abusive homes are struggling with the effects of violence and are in need of tools other than violence to communicate their needs and desires. It is also insulting to the many healthy, nonviolent men who would not and do not commit acts of violence. So taking part in Take Back the Night does not qualify one to be a man hater, but more accurately, a violence hater. This is not about women against men, it is about individuals coming together to take a stand for a safe, nonviolent community.
Take Back the Night events usually consist of a candlelight vigil or march. Community members – women, men, young adults, children and the elderly – carry candles to represent the light we wish to shed on violence as a social problem. By bringing awareness and recognition that violence does occur in our community, we can take a stand that it will not be tolerated. Tonight, in downtown Grass Valley at 7, there will be various speakers, including a survivor story, poet Molly Fisk and more. This is an all inclusive community event. Please come join us as another Nevada County resident who wants to support the right for everyone to feel safe from violence – at home and in our community. We realize that one event will not eradicate domestic violence. The objective for this event is to recognize those who have been victimized, raise awareness and education, foster communication about ways we can all make a difference and reduce the traumatic effects of violence on victims. We can come together to end the silence surrounding violence.
Sara Raskie is a legal advocate with the Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition.
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