March 29, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Takes Back the Night on April 4

VALDOSTA — Believing that no one should fear the night, or the day, Valdosta State University will Take Back the Night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in the Student Union Ballroom. Faculty, staff, students, retirees, alumni, and friends of the university are invited to attend and help shatter the silence and stop the violence.

Take Back the Night will feature a keynote address by Dr. Jessica Houston, a licensed master social worker and transformational leader with a passion for helping others live an abundant and satisfying life, despite any obstacles they may encounter. She is dedicated to helping others maximize their potential, realize their personal and professional goals, and begin living their best lives now. She has personally overcome poverty, depression, low self-confidence, and intimate partner violence, and as a nationally recognized speaker, she is known for her marked transparency and for being straightforward about her past. She is the author of “Women’s Secrets: It’s Time to Stop Suffering in Silence” and founder of Expecting Victory, a website devoted to educating, encouraging, and empowering the masses. 

“Ms. Houston has had various experiences that many of our students can relate to,” said Dr. Bobbie Ticknor, a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice and one of the event organizers. “Not only has she battled with poverty, mental illness, and domestic violence, but she has also had to overcome being sexually victimized. Hearing her story reminds people that they are not alone and they don’t have to suffer in silence. This can also be an important discussion for those who have not personally been touched by these issues. We all carry our own experiences and you never know what someone is going through. Learning more about these issues can help foster an environment of openness and caring. It is our hope that this event will encourage more discussion and help our community know what resources are available to them here at VSU.”

During the evening, attendees will also enjoy a screening of Jacobe Love’s “Loco-Motives,” which won the Take Back the Night Short Film Challenge. Students across campus were invited to submit a 10- to 15-minute short film about sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse, or a related topic, with the winner receiving $250.   

Take Back the Night’s history dates back at least half a century, to a time when women from many European countries gathered as a tribunal council to discuss safety when walking down public streets. The movement found its way to the United States in the 1970s, again emerging from a desire to make the streets a safe place at night. In 1973, protesters spoke out against pornography in San Francisco, Calif., and the murdering of women of color in Los Angeles, Calif., according to the Take Back the Night Foundation. Two years later, a march was held in Philadelphia, Pa., after the murder of Susan Alexander Speeth, a microbiologist who was stabbed to death while walking home alone.

Today, Take Back the Night focuses on ending sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse, and all other forms of sexual violence. While some events are women-only, many others include men as victims, bystanders, and supporters.

VSU’s Take Back the Night events are sponsored by the Counseling Center, Housing and Residence Life, Campus Recreation, and The Haven, a nonprofit organization that provides 24-hour emergency temporary shelter and services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in nine South Georgia counties.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Take Back the Night is part of VSU’s month-long action plan to end sexual violence. This year’s national campaign focuses on raising awareness about sexual violence and educating communities on how to stop it by encouraging and informing a wider audience on how they can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality.

“We’re strongest when we raise our voices together …,” according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “We all have a role to play in the prevention of sexual assault.”

One in five women and one in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape in the United States, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The 2017 Sexual Assault Awareness Month slogan is “Engaging New Voices.”

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