Take Back the Night (TBTN) is an annual event that has been drawing large crowds across the nation for nearly 40 years. Here in Macomb, hundreds of devoted men and women have been marching for TBTN… making it the largest in the state of Illinois. Janine Cavicchia, Women’s Center Director and Director for the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative Project, explained what Take Back the Night (TBTN) began as and what it stands for today.
Cavicchia explained Take Back the Night began as a protest rally against pornography during the 1970s. Since then, it has turned into a national event. “Communities across the nation put on this event to show support to end violence against women in our society,” she said. “Take Back the Night is about awareness, empowerment, and the chance to visibly fight against interpersonal violence,” she said.
Here at home, WIU has been committed to providing resources and support services about interpersonal violence for nearly forty years. Rape awareness programming at WIU, which still continues today, provides support groups for victims. In the early 1990’s, a group of women, including Cavicchia, helped organize WIU’s first Take Back the Night Event. “It began with only about 40 people in attendance the first year and has grown to 500-600 each year for the past 13 years or so,” Cavicchia said. “Thanks to the continued support of members of the WIU and Macomb communities, our [Take Back the Night event] has been recognized as the largest in the state with 500-600 students, faculty, staff, and community members participating every year,” she said.
Since its inception in the mid-1970’s, Take Back the Night now involves more aspects. TBTN allows people to use their voices and see what it feels like to shout and yell in an empowering way. The march helps people recognize their surroundings; marchers are encouraged to be aware of how dark the streets are and see the areas where alcohol is consumed. Cavicchia said, “Marchers are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings…and realize that 75% of all assaults, the attacker, survivor, or both are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs,” she said.
Take Back the Night will begin at 6:30 p.m. in front of Sherman Hall on Thursday, October 18. There will be resource table displays by campus and community offices; also, campus offices and organizations will provide survivor support services, as well as t-shirt and light stick sales. The rally begins at 7 p.m. on the steps of Sherman Hall with a reading of the proclamation. A proclamation has been signed by WIU President Jack Thomas, Macomb Mayor Michael Inman, WIU Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative Coordinator Sean Dixon, and WIU Victim Services Director Diane Mayfield.
Cavicchia said the march will begin around 7:30 p.m. and will make its way to Chandler Park on Macomb Square. “The rally will continue with a musical performance, a survivor speak-out, remarks from several student leaders about ways students can get involved in interpersonal violence prevention, and closing remarks.” Additionally, a dance, a dramatic reading, and a song will be performed.
For more information on Take Back the Night, visit http://www.wiu.edu/news/newsrelease.php?release_id=10169. If you’d like to get involved, visit the Women’s Center webpage at http://www.wiu.edu/student_services/womens_center/index.php/.