Take Back the Night brings people together to protest sexual assault

Sarah Stukenborg

A crowd of people gathered outside the Justice Center on Thursday to take a stand against sexual violence and to march for justice.

Alina Klein, author of “Rape Girl,” spoke to the audience about her own personal experience of being sexually assaulted at the age of 16.

“Rape is a global problem and a largely silent epidemic,” Klein said.

Klein asserted that the more people who speak out against sexual violence, the more power they can take back from their perpetrators.

“Social media is a powerful tool for spreading anti-violent messages,” Klein said.

A crowd of all different ages and walks of life showed their support by wearing their white T-shirts, holding anti-violent signs and cheering.

Elizabeth Madariaga, Sexual Assault Services coordinator for the Counseling and Testing Center at WKU, took the stage after Klein to tell the audience that it doesn’t matter what one is wearing, where they are or if they have been drinking.

“What matters is sexual violence is not okay,” Madariaga said.

Madariaga, along with other members of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month committee, have been working since September on all the events they’ve put on throughout March.

“This is absolutely a community event,” Madariaga said.

The Stun and Run, another SAAM event, will be on Saturday. Different non-lethal techniques will be taught to those in attendance in order to help them get away safely if ever put in a dangerous sexual situation.

Lauren Cunningham and Mark Whitley offered live music at Take Back the Night.

Cunningham sang “Stand by Me” and said the event took a lot of team work.

“It is a true effort of collaboration,” Cunningham said.

Robin Mohen, who has helped put together the event for the previous six years, said this was the first year she could not be on the SAAM committee. Her favorite part about the event is bringing people together for a common foundation.

“You see such a diverse group of people coming out to take a stand against sexual assault,” Mohen said.

Tiffany Heckel, a member of the social work department on WKU’s Glasgow campus, made the trip to Bowling Green to show her support.

“We came here as kind of an experience and community action,” Heckel said.

Take Back the Night 2013 was sponsored by many organizations including the Medical Center, Hope Harbor, Replica Screen Printing and Bowling Green Junior Woman’s Club.

Klein held a book signing at the event as well, and supporters in the crowd gathered to buy her book.