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The Guelph community marches at the 29th annual Take Back the Night

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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Written by Caitlin Zeran

As I stand among this crowd of strangers, lost among a sea of faces, I cannot help but feel safe. I cannot help but feel loved, protected, and accepted by all of these strong men and women surrounding me. I hear the beat of the performer’s drums and as they play, I begin to feel something within me, something powerful yet invisible. I feel the indescribable bond that we all share; they are survivors and, unfortunately, I am as well.

Here I stand at the 29th annual Take Back the Night ceremony and I see nothing but love and support everywhere that I turn. It is a venue for strangers, friends, and lovers alike to gather and offer resources to women and children who have survived sexual violence, along with other forms of abuse. Despite the unfortunate purpose for the event, Take Back the Night acts as a strong representation of how much work is still left to be done regarding human rights and sexuality.

Among the many services and events that take place in the name of sexual freedom and respect is the “Slut Walk”, which now occurs in 150 cities around the world. Heather Jarvis, the co-founder of Slut Walk and a student at the University of Guelph, says, “I’m a slut… I’m going to feel good about my sexuality regardless of how and if I choose to use it”. Jarvis continues on to say that, “change is always happening and it is still so necessary. [Sexual violence] affects everyone”.

Amanda Penwill and Michelle Bonaventura, also students at the University of Guelph, are marching in the event with their picket signs held high. Penwill heard about Take Back the Night through her Sociology professor. She states, “She’s passionate and I am as well”. In turn, Bonaventura was informed of the event by Penwill and, due to her strong belief in women’s rights, she decided to tag along. “I feel that I need to be a part of [Take Back the Night],” says Bonaventura.

Jessica, a public educator for the Women in Crisis, perfectly states that “we are here because we hope that one day [we] won’t have to march”. She continues on to say that “we are fighting today, we need to fight tomorrow, and we need to keep fighting every day”.

More than anything, I believe that this is the true message of Take Back the Night and other events associated with it. Real change is possible if everyone is able to come together in an effort to completely eliminate sexual violence from the lives of women and children.

With more acceptance and understanding, it is possible that we will one day live in a world in which women and children are not subject to sexual violence and abuse.

 Who wouldn’t want to live in that world?

As a victim of sexual violence, I am proud merely to be able to say that I survived. It is a journey; it is long and hard, and it is sometimes difficult to see the positives in life. However, knowing that I have such a large support system available to me makes living as a victim a little easier. And, as nearly all of the speakers at this year’s Take Back the Night ceremony testified, what matters is that I survived.

If you would like to volunteer with Women in Crisis, please call
519 – 836 – 6831 or go to www.gwwomenincrisis.org.

Caitlin Zeran is a volunteer for thecannon.ca for the 2011-2012 school year and is a student at the University of Guelph

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