Weather pushed back the annual Take Back the Night walk by a week, yet nothing could stop over a dozen Springfield College female students from sharing their stories surrounding sexual assault, rape, violence from both boyfriends and family members, and the painful memories that had affected them for so long.
Students Against Violence Everywhere (S.A.V.E.), the same group that holds events such as the Vagina Monologues, which takes place in the spring semester, put on the walk held Monday night.
“I think it’s very important to share my message, because if we don’t talk about it, nothing is going to change,” said S.A.V.E. president and Springfield senior Ashley Ryan. “We need to break the silence, and that’s the whole purpose of this event.
“I was freaking out all day about sharing my story, but now that it’s over, it’s a relieving feeling.”
Take Back the Night is an international event, which has been going on for almost 40 years. The walk began in 1975 in Philadelphia, Pa.
On Monday night, just like in past years at Springfield, the walk began in front of Alumni Hall and continued to residence halls around the campus. In front of each hall, one or two female students would share their experience with violence in a relationship.
Each story had a powerful message, with each having different perspectives and issues. For Ryan, this was another year of sharing her story, following her freshman year when she only watched. For others, like senior Lainnie Emond, it was the first time telling her experience.
“This was my first time speaking,” said Emond, who is the organization’s treasurer.
“[After] I directed the Vagina Monologues last spring, which was such an influential moment in my life, I realized I had a story to share. And, oddly enough, women connect through tragedy and through what they’ve survived.”
Each speech is a liberating experience for those delivering them and a cautionary tale for those listening. Warnings of ongoing abuse that were both physical and verbal were shared, as well as letting go of the hurtful memories.
Topics of rape, abuse and even one about a mother’s strength were shared. During the walk, everyone was asked to keep silent for the more than hour-long event.
There is so much pain that goes with sharing these stories, yet there is support from all those in attendance.
“[The hardest part] was just realizing what I’ve been through,” said Emond. “It was great though. It was rejuvenating.”
“People really support and listen to our cause,” added Ryan. “We have a lot of events, and people are always interested in what we’re doing.”
According to Ryan, the event has grown since her freshman year. In 2009, the walk had 10 speakers, this year should have been doubled to 20; however, three students had to back out because of midterms and other commitments. Although the group claims they didn’t advertise as much as they could have, they feel the event was another step forward.
“I don’t think advertising would have made a difference. You really need to know the details of Take Back the Night in order to appreciate it.”