Eugene’s Sexual Assault Support Services and the University of Oregon Women’s Center hosted Eugene’s 40th Take Back the Night rally on Thursday, April 26. The rally was a survivor-centered protest against sexual assault and domestic violence, with an emphasis on decolonization and the increased difficulties faced by Native American and Indigenous assault survivors.
Take Back the Night is an event that is held on the third Thursday of every April. The event is nondiscriminatory, so all members of the community are welcome.
The event began at the UO’s Erb Memorial Union, where speakers educated the audience on preventative measures and statistics regarding sexual assault. Others shared personal assault stories.
UO’s Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team performed an original skit centered around the need for constant action against sexual assault.
“It’s time to take back our lives, take back our bodies, and take back the night,” the eight SWAT members said in unison as they marched off the stage.
“It’s really important, I think, to come together in a really public space and to say ‘sexual violence is not normal, it’s not okay,’” SWAT member and UO senior, Molly Zaninovich, said. “Sexual violence is so tolerated and so normalized.”
Other presenters included the Women of Color Coalition, Mujeres, LGBTQA3, the Muslim Student Association and the Veterans and Family Student Association.
The final speaker, Cholena Wright, is the UO Coordinator of Native American Recruitment. Wright spoke of the abnormally large levels of sexual violence in Native American and other marginalized communities.
“Having a group of people just sit there and listen to people share their truth and share their stories of survival is so impactful,” Wright said. “It’s something that’s often so hard to talk about that we kind of avoid it.”
After Wright spoke, the event transitioned into an organized march, escorted by the Eugene Police Department. Speakers and audience members merged and took over the streets, making their way downtown to the Atrium on the corner of West 10th Avenue and Olive Street.