Athens community successfully Takes Back the Night in large numbers

Published: April 13, 2023 Author: Jordan Schmitt

On Thursday, April 6, Ohio University and Athens community members took to the streets for the annual Take Back the Night event hosted by the Women’s Center and Student Senate. Take Back the Night is part of an international movement to gain awareness for sexual and domestic violence and advocate for survivors.  

Attendees of the event gathered on Thursday evening at the Athena Cinema. Resources from My Sister’s Place, Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, Ohio University Counseling and Psychological Services and the Survivor Advocacy Program were provided upon entrance. Seats of the theater filled quickly as a result of the large turnout.  

Opening remarks were shared by Women’s Center Assistant Director Letitia Lyneka Price, Women’s Center Director Dr. Chris Fowler, and Interim Vice President of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Salome Nnoromele.

Keynote speaker Jayvon Howard offered meaningful insights and empowerment during his statements. Howard, who serves as the Engaging Men Coordinator with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, has a background in programming and outreach with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and works to engage male survivors in the conversation.  

Jayvon Howard speaks at the 2023 Take Back the Night event at the Athena Cinema.
Jayvon Howard speaks at the 2023 Take Back the Night event at the Athena Cinema. Photo by Dylan Townsend.

“I offer that when we take back our streets – we also take back our days lost, our rights, our privileges. We will take back our laughter, our joy, our wonder, our imagination, our language, our power,” Howard remarked.  

Advocates from the Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program and surrounding Athens organizations such as My Sister’s Place and the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program spoke jointly in support of survivors and on the work that they do daily to help victims of violence.  

“Your presence here matters,” Survivor Advocate Kaitlyn Urbaniak said. “It matters to people watching out the dorm room windows, to the perpetrators who got away with it, it matters to the many victims who will see you marching but aren’t yet ready to march. Your presence matters, and you are playing a part in the history of this movement.” 

Survivor Kylie Duncan courageously shared her own story with those in attendance. After a heartfelt speech, Duncan closed by saying, “Survivors are strong and we are resilient, even if we don't feel like it. I knew that no matter what I did, I persevered.” 

Following the remarks from the speakers, participants emptied out of the Athena onto Court Street. As the march commenced, signs of support were held high, and voices rang throughout uptown Athens. The event came to a close at College Green with a mindfulness session led by Counseling and Psychological Services.  

Take Back the Night 2023
Photo by Dylan Townsend.

“We are asserting ourselves in this space,” explained Executive Director of My Sister’s Place Kelly Madewell. “These are our streets. We are showing our sisters, our daughters, our sons, that domestic violence and sexual assault are not personal matters. We are bringing these assaults into the light and giving power back to survivors.”