14th Annual Take Back the Night
People in Pocatello took back the night on Friday.
The event, coordinated by Idaho State University's Anderson Gender Resource Center, was held to raise awareness of sexual assault.
One woman was sending out a message, and she was not alone.
Lindsay Van Luvanee, who has experienced several instances of sexual assault, said one of the main problems is victim blaming, like, “Well, if she wore that, what did she expect?”
She said that's one thing that makes it easier for those sexually assaulted to keep quiet – they feel guilt, like they are to blame.
Friday's event combated that with a march from the Family Services Alliance building at 355 S. Arthur Ave., to the Old Town Pavillion at 420 North Main Street.
While walking down Arthur Avenue at 6:00 p.m. Friday, drivers could hear chants like, "Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no, yes means yes," “Hey, hey, ho, ho, patriarchy's got to go,” and “No more silence, no more violence.”
The march sent a message, fighting a view that many may hold across the nation.
"Culturally,” Van Luvanee said, “women are supposed to not get raped, as opposed to telling other people 'Don't rape.'"
Friday's event was not only to promote awareness of sexual assault, but empower anyone and everyone to speak out against it, and possibly even stop it before it happens.
"It's about teaching bystanders, friends and family about how to interject,” said Event Coordinator Jessica Milford. “So it could be as easy as telling the bartender, 'Hey, that person over there is feeding So-And-So drinks. Can you please stop?'"
Take Back the Night is now in it's 14th year. While it was originally intended for just women, organizers made it clear that men should be involved as well.
But it's not just because men generally more likely to commit a rape. Men and boys are also victims of sexual assault.
"Having the opportunity to talk about what it's actually like is a part of dispelling those strange cultural myths that are just false," said Van Lunvanee, who was asked to speak at the event.
One aspect to Take Back the Night is empowerment in several ways.
They encourage women to not be afraid, but rather just be aware when going out at night. They also talked about the term 'victim,' and how that really does lead to any resolution or healing for someone who was sexually assaulted.
Rather, they use the term 'survivor,' indicating that those who have been sexually assaulted are healing and not letting this event dictate the rest of their life.
Event coordinators stressed that the statistics of assault aren't just for other places in the nation. They said people need to be aware that it happens in Pocatello.
They say one of the main reasons many don't know about the number of sexual assaults is because they go unreported, for a number of reasons.
Most of the reasons, however, are based on fear: fear that nothing will happen to their assailant, fear that people will blame you for being sexually assaulted or fear of everybody knowing, and thinking less of you or treating you differently.
"I just think our community needs to teach people less about being fearful,” said Milford, “and more about how to not infringe on people's rights. One victim is one too many."
Take Back the Night is sponsored by the Family Services Alliance, along with a number of Pocatello businesses. It is a local version of an international movement.
The first known march took place in San Fransisco, California, on November 4, 1978, protesting violence against women in pornography in media.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault, you can find resources on the Family Services Alliance website here.
Also, the Bannock County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault task force is online here, or you can call their hotline in English at (208) 251-HELP (4357) or Línea Española de la Crisis at (208) 681-8715.
Note: In the video above, the names of Jessica Milford and Lindsay Van Luvanee were reversed. We apologize for the error.
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