Campus flooded with chants such as “2-4-6-8, no more date rape” or “people unite, take back the night,” as the 21st annual Take Back the Night took place on Thursday, April 17, in the AIMM Amphitheater.
Take Back the Night was created in order to address all forms of violence against women.
This powerful night kicked off with a series of startling statistics to illustrate the dangers of domestic abuse women encounter.
One statistic that made its mark in the audience’s mind is that “on the (College) campus, one in four women and one in 10 men will experience sexual violence.”
The audience members were then given candles to hold up high as they marched around campus. This group of both survivors and supporters let it be known that domestic violence needed to be stopped, as they bellowed a series of chants against date rape.
After making their march across campus, the audience returned to the AIMM Amphitheater for a special guest speaker. Crystal Leigh Endsley graced the podium as she treated the audience to some spoken-word poetry. This Penn State women’s studies instructor and recipient of numerous awards and honors in the women’s study and playwriting category used spoken-word poetry to illustrate her experiences with sexual abuse.
“I never wanted to write poetry, I just wanted to express my pain,” Endsley said.
She told the tragic tale of her high school boyfriend who took advantage of her in the worst way possible and then told her there was “nothing to love here.”
For years, Endsley had blamed the incident on herself — she believed that she would never be loveable. She began dressing more open and became more promiscuous, believing that “if (she gave) it to them, they can’t take it.”
However, all along she was just searching for the thing that her high school boyfriend had stolen from her. She found her voice through spoken-word poetry, the voice that ultimately was silenced during her painful encounter.
As Endsley wrapped up her story, she opened the floor to any other brave souls who wanted to share their experiences with domestic violence.
Members of the audience began opening up, telling stories of sexual violence encounters with friends, a nanny and even their own family members.
Chelsea VanOrden, a junior women’s and gender studies major, was impacted the most during this part of the night.
“You really felt like you were a part of their lives,” she said.
The night closed on a more positive note, as Robbin Loonan, coordinator of the Anti-Violence Initiatives at the College, opened up her door and her email inbox to anyone who needed to share any experiences they may have had.
She reminded the audience that they needed to speak out and regain their voice — something that had ultimately been taken away from them.
All in all, it was a very powerful night for both survivors and supporters.
All proceeds from the night will go Providence House, a nonprofit organization that works to end domestic abuse while providing a safe haven from abuse.