On Oct. 23 at 7:00 p.m., the University of Maine Feminist Collective collaborated with the University of Maine Police Department (UMPD), the UMaine all women a cappella choir Renaissance, Partners for Peace, Rape Response Services, Planned Parenthood, CourageLIVES and the Counseling Center to hold Take Back the Night, an event open to all students to promote dialogue about domestic violence. Take Back the Night is one of UMaine’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month events, aimed at providing resources for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The event was held just three weeks after the UMaine March Against Domestic Violence.
Other events hosted by the UMaine community to observe Domestic Violence Awareness month included a display of “red flags” on the common area in front of the Memorial Union, which drew attention to toxic and unhealthy signals within a relationship.
Take Back the Night was organized by executive members of the Feminist Collective, a student-run feminist group on campus that educates the community on intersectional feminist values. President Miranda Snyder, and Vice President Hannah Thompson, both third-year students, divided the night into three parts; announcements and performances, a survivor speakout and a march around campus. The first two parts of the event took place in the Lown Room of the Memorial Union.
Take Back the Night provides a space with resources and open dialogue within the community. People got the opportunity to hear about resources for survivors both on and off-campus. There was also an opportunity for those affected by domestic violence to speak out about their experiences in a judgment-free and accepting atmosphere.
Siuan Shepherd, a second-year early childhood education student, found validation and relief from this event.
“I came here to make my own statement. I feel like I have been waiting for three years to finally say something, and this is such an open and accepting place,” Shepherd said in an interview with the Maine Campus.
“I feel grateful about the UMaine community’s recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Shepherd said. “I believe events like Take Back the Night provide awareness about domestic violence and assault.”
Tahmoor Khan, a Planned Parenthood organizer, also found importance in events that allowed survivors to be heard.
“We need to make sure we listen to [survivors] and hear them,” Khan said. “Most importantly, we need to support them and do all that we can do to be a guiding light for them.”
At 9:00 p.m., Snyder and Thomson led attendees outside. Students lit small, white candles to “illuminate” the need for domestic violence awareness, and walked around the UMaine Mall.
Take Back the Night brought forth important conversations for the UMaine community to acknowledge. It allowed survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and relationship violence to share their stories without stigma. It also allowed allies of survivors to take a stand and show solidarity. Take Back the Night was an intense and cathartic event that allowed productive discussions about sexual and relationship violence.
If you or someone you know is currently facing domestic violence or dating abuse, do not hesitate to call the UMaine Police Department (207-581-4040), the UMaine Intersectional Feminist Resource Center (207-581-9509), the UMaine Student Alliance for Sexual Health at m.me/umainesash, Title IX Student Services (207-581-1406), Rape Response Services (1-800-871-7741), CourageLIVES (207-282-335, option #4), or Partners for Peace (1-800-863-9909, or 1-800-437-1220 for TTY).