Take Back the Night Raises Awareness on Sexual Assault

CW: This Article Contains Discussion of Sexual Assault. 

Today at 6pm, Denton County Friends of the Family will hold their annual event and candlelight vigil at the Denton County Courthouse called Take Back The Night. The event is an all-inclusive community gathering to show support and solidarity for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. A resource fair will also be provided in partnership with the UNT, TWU and NCTC. Keynote speaker Edyka Chilomé, a literary arts activist and cultural worker, will also be in attendance.

Take Back The Night will be the kick-off event for DCFOF in conjunction with April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Other events to be held by the organization include A Cup of Prevention on April 19 and Denim Day on April 25 respectively. 

In a interview with The Dentonite, Community Education Specialist Nicole Owens and Prevention, Education, and Awareness Intern Jennifer Wyatt stated the significance of the #MeToo movement has brought more awareness to the issue of sexual assault. 

“Our hope is that people’s engagement and involvement in being a voice for sexual assault victims and survivors will have more longevity than in the past; support will continue throughout the year, not just in April!” they stated via email. 

According to the organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), there are 321,500 victims age 12 and older who experience sexual assault each year. One out of six women in the U.S. has been the victim or attempted victim of sexual assault. Their statistics also stated that one in thirty-three men have also been victims. In the most recent study researched last year, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council (DFWHC) revealed that the hospital reported number of sexual assault cases was at 160. And in a list of statistics from the Denton Record Chronicle, 95 reported sexual assaults accounted for 349 cases of violent crime in 2016. 

These numbers lead to an important question. What community resources are available for survivors of sexual assault? The main resource of support for Denton and surrounding areas is DCFOF. They offer various sources for survivors of sexual assault and domestic/intimate partner violence from free counseling service, transitional housing and advocacy services. For students, UNT and TWU also provide free counseling services respectively. Finally, Denton County MHMR also provides counseling and mental health services on a sliding scale. 

For some, Take Back The Night may be triggering and DCFOF cautions all individuals to consider the conversation of sexual assault before attending. However, the event is free and open to the community. For all attendees, the organization hopes that Take Back The Night will offer a sense of strength and unity while sending the message that survivors are not alone. 

“We hope that supporters will gain an understanding of ways in which to show their support to survivors of sexual assault. We also want survivors to leave with knowledge of the resources that are available to them at DCFOF, as they start their journey through the process of healing.”

For more info on tonight's candlight vigil, visit the Facebook event page.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Or contact the 24 Hour Denton County Friends of the Family Crisis Hotline at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.

Header image courtesy of Hybrid on Unsplash
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados