Ohio University

Take Back the Night

outline of OU skyline with street light illuminating. 'Take back the night' above the skyline.

Take Back the Night is an annual event to take back the night from sexual and domestic violence. Everyone, of all gender identities, is encouraged to participate in this event that focus on survivor experiences.

Take Back the Night is funded by Ohio University’s Student Senate and the Women’s Center. It is co-sponsored by My Sister’s Place and Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, as well as the following Ohio University offices: the Survivor Advocacy Program, Health Promotion, Counseling and Psychological Services, Graduate Student Senate, and Housing and Residence Life.

Save the Date

Thursday, April 1, 2021


Due to COVID-19, our 2021 event will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams (for a live event). Find out more by completing this survey registering your interest in the live event. We will also host a social media campaign via Twitter, follow @OHIOWomenCenter and read our Guidance for Participation below for more information.


Speakers at our live event (April 1, 6PM) include:

Olivia Gemarro Headshot
Olivia Gemarro
Cali Leasure headshot.
Cali Leasure
Sarah Liese headshot
Sarah Liese, activist
Black and white headshot of Mrs. MarQuelle Phillips
Mrs. MarQuelle Phillips, emcee
René Redd sitting outside
René Redd, Community-Based Advocate and Crisis Intervention Specialist for the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program
KC Waltz headshot
Kristin "KC" Waltz, MSW, LISW, Advocate
Michael Weiser headshot
Michael Weiser

As part of Take Back the Night, Kristin "KC" Waltz, MSW, LISW, and advocate for the Survivor Advocacy Program, will lead a Cord Cutting Ceremony, which is a meditative ceremony that can help sever cords binding you to emotional turmoil.

How to Participate on Twitter: Social Media Campaign

Option to Participate Anonymously or Through Sponsoring Organizations

We would love for you to provide supportive messages that we can share with survivors through the Ohio University Women’s Center Twitter account (@OHIOWomenCenter) on April 1st 2020, the day of our live online event, or during the live online program itself! To find out more and participate in this way, fill out this online survey.

Participate Through Your Own Social Media Account

We encourage all posts to use the hashtag SurvivorsUniteTBTN. Additional hashtags that may also help communicate your message may include: #SupportSurvivorsBy #StartByBelieving #IWillWalkWithYou. This march has long been a time for campus and community to come together to support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and harassment. To represent our campus and community effort, please tag @ohiou and @CityofAthensOH and use #SurvivorsUniteTBTN in your posts. Posts are encouraged to be reflective of our diversity and inclusion statementPrior to participating in the virtual Take Back the Night event, we ask that you read our FAQ and guidance for participation below

Take Back the Night has received an exemption from mandated reporting in order to allow for full-campus participation by all members of the campus community. Disclosures of incidents of sexual misconduct at this specified event (April 1, 2021; 6PM-9PM EST) will not be considered notice to Ohio University. Disclosures prior to the start and after the end time of the event are not exempt from mandatory reporting. Please visit Survivor Advocacy Program’s website for reporting options and resources: https://www.ohio.edu/survivor. If you would like to report something that has happened to you or someone else, we encourage you to view your reporting options at https://www.ohio.edu/survivor/options/reporting.

A door is decorated with messages of support for Take Back the Night, including "Survivors Deserve to Be Believed Here", a #StartByBelieving pledge, and a sign that says "#SupportSurvivorsBy: Believing Survivors, Challenge Bias and Rape Culture, Be Trauma-Informed, Education of Youth, Believing Survivors." The last "believing survivors" is bolded.

Door and Business Decorating Contest

Doors, businesses, windows, should be decorated by March 29, 2021 and should remain decorated through April 1, 2021 to be considered for the door decorating contest. You are welcome and encouraged to decorate without participating in our contest. To be considered for the contest, please submit an image of your decorations to us by 5PM on March 29th using this form. If you experience challenges uploading an image to the form, you may also email us a picture at womenscenter@ohio.edu using the subject line: TBTN Door Decoration Contest and answer the questions in this document.

Aspirations: What We Want the Culture To Be

The door decorating contest is an opportunity for local business, community members, Ohio University offices, and students to create visible statements of support for survivors of interpersonal violence. This will serve as a physical reminder of the culture that we want to see in our campus and community, one in which survivors are supported. It is also socially distanced and safe. While we cannot replace the powerful visual reminders at the rally and march in the past, we can use this opportunity to create powerful visual reminders.

We also ask that anyone participating in Take Back the Night commit to on-going education and improvement as an ally to survivors. Take Back the Night is not just about this day - this event - this moment. It is about creating a world that supports survivors always.

How to Participate

Those who wish to participate in the decorating contest will decorate their houses, doors, or windows in support of survivors of interpersonal and sexual violence. This may include decorations of teal and purple, quotes explaining why believing survivors is important, messages to survivors, and steps on how to support survivors. Decorations should follow Athens City guidelines regarding banners and signage.

  • Here are some ideas:
    • Yard signs or window messages such as “survivors deserve to be believed here,” “it’s not your fault,” and “you’re not alone.” Other options may include statistics and visual representations about violence on college campuses and in our communities, or simply the words “Start by Believing.” You can find ready to print material through the national Start By Believing website here.
    • Chalking on driveways or sidewalks (following University guidelines to not chalk on brick or other fixtures)
    • Explain what rape culture is and how to address it, promoting the steps to bystander intervention, stating why it is important to start by believing, or commitments to recognizing and preventing violence on campus.
    • QR codes or links to reporting options/resources or registration for our online event April 1st. Download a QR code for folk to share their messages of support with us here: 
      qr code to provide messages of support with us
    • Displaying t-shirts and signs from previous marches and rallies.
    • Create a bulletin board using material from the Survivor Advocacy Program.
    • Participants are encouraged to include messages that acknowledge how communities that experience racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other forms of oppression, are disproportionality impacted by interpersonal violence. Therefore messages that include, for example, “BlackLivesMatter” or “TransLivesMatter” are encouraged.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

The organizers of Take Back the Night in Athens, OH are committed to diversity and inclusion. We ask that as you participate in Take Back the Night that you consider how intersections of oppression and power have caused interpersonal violence to be perpetrated disproportionately against communities who are most marginalized. We are committed to uplifting the voices of survivors. We also recognize that due to discrimination and safety concerns, there are many survivors that we may not hear from. We hold space to acknowledge those who are silenced and those who are no longer with us. We encourage you to explore Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence's resources on how anti-oppression work is anti-interpersonal violence work.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Guidance to Participate

What should I be posting?  | Can I share my story? | What are the risks in participating? | Who can I talk to now?

What should I be posting? 

As part of the virtual Take Back the Night, we encourage folk to participate by sharing their commitment to supporting survivors. We encourage posts to be from your perspective, and not to disclose other people’s experiences without their permission. Even when posts are anonymized, sharing information about location, date, etc., can be used to guess about parties involved.  

We created hashtags to help you frame your posts and encourage you to follow the hashtags as a guide. 

#SupportSurvivorsBy: share how you support survivors by intervening when you witness rape culture, provide information about resources that have been helpful (shout out to @ousap for the Survivor Advocacy Program at Ohio University or @SAOPseoh for the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program in the community), or explain how you make a conscious effort to educate yourself. 

#StartByBelieving: share how you support survivors by responding to disclosures with empathy. Take the StartByBelieving pledge online and post a selfie with it (https://www.startbybelieving.org/pledge/). Encourage others to watch the #StartByBelieving documentary about a survivor’s experience here in Athens (https://www.ohio.edu/survivor/get-involved/start-believing). 

#IWillWalkWithYou: share words of encouragement that can help us combat rape culture. Post messages like “To Survivors, it’s not your fault” or photos of you wearing your “I Will Walk With You” t-shirts from past marches. If you are a past “I Will Walk With You” ally, you can write about your experience serving in that role – without disclosing anything what was shared with you. For example, when we asked past t-shirt wearers about their favorite part of the march, one responded with: “Everyone coming together as a sign of how many people support others.” We encourage you to share that – visible support of survivors helps us come together and know how many support us! 

#SurvivorsUniteTBTN: at its core, Take Back the Night is an event that is survivor-centered. #SurvivorsUniteTBTN creates space to acknowledge that there is strength in visibility. We invite you to share your favorite or most impactful moment from past TBTN events or post message of strength and hope, e.g. “Survivors United Will Never Be Defeated.” If sharing from personal experience of survivorhood, we ask that you read the FAQ on “Can I share my story?”  

Can I share my story of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, harassment, or stalking? 

Before You Share: Before sharing your story, we encourage you to speak with an advocate who can help you consider: 

  • If this is the first time that you have shared publicly: Sharing on social media may be a quick, in the moment decision that can have a lasting emotional impact. While it can be freeing to share in this format for some, that is not a guarantee. You may not have the support in place to navigate your emotional response. We will work with you to consider possible emotional responses to sharing publicly. Even if you have shared before, sharing on social media can feel more permanent and public than sharing in other formats.  
  • Not using the perpetrator’s name (unless the person has been convicted in a court of law). Read more below on defamation/lawsuits. 

  • Whatever you share may become part of a pending or future investigation should you choose to report. For information on how to report, please visit: https://www.ohio.edu/survivor/options/reporting 

  • Risks of Sharing: Sharing online has risks, including (but not limited to) online bullying, permanence by way of screenshots and retweeting (which can make public your story in ways that you may not wish and cannot control), and emotional responses that you may not predict. While you can report bullying or trolling behavior through Twitter, there are reports that Twitter does not act quickly enough to respond to these issues. As such, please consider that we have events like Take Back the Night because in many ways we still exist within a culture that legitimizes sexual violence. Therefore, responses to our event may not always be positive and we may face backlash. 

  • Defamation/Lawsuits: Free speech is a protected 1st Amendment right, but it does have limitations. Sharing the name of people involved may result in legal ramifications, including litigation/defamation suits.  You may wish to discuss these potential ramifications with a legal advisor prior to making a decision about identifying others.   

  • If you are interested in sharing your story at future survivor-centered events, please email Kim Rouse, Director of Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP), at castor@ohio.edu with a few sentences on what you would like to speak about regarding your unique survivor experience. SAP is a confidential resource and exempt from mandatory reporting through the university. In order to guard your privacy, please indicate in your email to Kim the best way to contact you. There are ample opportunities to participate in other events, and we can help you prepare for those in advance. We want you to feel empowered to share your story in the format that is best for you. 

What are the risks of participating on social media?  

  • Sharing online has risks, including (but not limited to) online bullying, permanence by way of screenshots and retweeting (which can make public your story in ways that you may not wish and cannot control), and emotional responses that you may not predict. While you can report bullying or trolling behavior through Twitter, there are reports that Twitter does not act quickly enough to respond to these issues. As such, please consider that we have events like Take Back the Night because in many ways we still exist within a culture that legitimizes sexual violence. Therefore, responses to our event may not always be positive and we may face backlash. 

I want to talk with someone. Who can I talk to now? 

  • If you want to explore disclosing that you are a survivor during the virtual Take Back the Night, and you are an OHIO student, you can call the Survivor Advocacy Program’s hotline at: 740.597.SAFE (7233). If you receive a busy signal when you call, please hang up and try again. To reach out to someone during normal business hours, please contact a confidential advocate by emailing survivor.advocacy@ohio.edu or calling 740.597.SAFE (7233). 

  • If you are a student seeking Counseling and Psychological Services, please call 740.593.1616. 

  • If you are an OHIO employee seeking support, you may reach out to the Employee Assistance Program 24/7 Confidential phone service 1-800-227-6007. 

  • If you are an OHIO employee or community member looking for an advocate, please call the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program’s hotline at 740-591-4266. 

  • If you are seeking support from My Sister’s Place – either to talk about coming to shelter, schedule an outreach or court advocacy appointment, or just discuss what is happening at home - please call our hotline at 1-800-443-3402. 

Take Back the Night marchers in Athens (2018).