By: Olivia Wile
Take Back the Night returns to the University of Findlay for its seventh annual event.
During the day of Tuesday, March 14, students could find information tables set up at the College of Business and Center for Student Life. Later that night, they could listen to the words of Michelle Stratton.
Stratton, the sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) coordinator at Blanchard Valley Hospital, says that speaking at Take Back the Night was very important to her.
“It was an opportunity to reach out to the community, to share information about sexual assault and domestic violence and to meet some amazing students and listen,” said Stratton. “It was very meaningful to me.”
During her speech, she provided statistics about sexual assault and how it impacts everyone from college students, the LGBTQ community, to mothers and grandmothers. She also shared three stories about human trafficking, child sexual abuse as well as college rape and domestic violence.
“I think any information that we can give to students about awareness and sources that are available to them if something were to happen to them is empowering,” explained Stratton. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions to what sexual assault is and what consent is.”
Take Back the Night first gained momentum in 2001 after Katie Koestner became the first woman to speak out about being a victim of college campus date rape in the United States. According to the foundation’s website, since then, the goal has been to share history, raise awareness and work toward change. Their mission statement reads:
“We serve to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives.”
Another face in the attendance on Tuesday was Bethany Treece, rape crisis case manager for Findlay’s Open Arms Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services. Treece says the organizations mission is to help those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault by providing emergency shelter, outreach, advocacy, prevention and education.
Take Back the Night has reached over 30 million people in 36 different countries, Treece says it is important to continue to provide a voice for victims.
“It’s very empowering for [people] to stand up and tell their story or listen to others and know they’re not alone and there are resources to help them,” said Treece. “It’s a good opportunity for survivors to take back some power and start to heal.”
Treece works with both Stratton and the University to provide resources to victims.
“We work really closely with Title IX. [We] can meet individually with anyone who has experienced intimate partner violence and sexual assault,” said Treece. “We’re educated on what to do in those types of situations, so we can kind of guide survivors in the right direction.”
For more information about the Open Arms services in Findlay, visit http://www.openarmsfindlay.com. To learn more about Take Back the Night, visit https://takebackthenight.org. For immediate assistance after assault or violence, SANE nurses are available 24/7 at Blanchard Valley Hospital.