Take Back the Night brings hundreds out to raise awareness of sexual assault

WKU graduate student Azalia Gongora of Belize participates in the Take Back The Night march Thursday. The participants started at the Warren County Justice Center and marched one mile around Bowling Green to spread awareness of sexual violence.

Natalie Hayden

Hundreds of people took to the streets to raise awareness for sexual assault Thursday night.

Take Back the Night was just one event of a series put on by the city’s Sexual Assault Awareness Committee during Sexual Assault Awareness month.

“Take Back the Night is an opportunity for people to march and to increase awareness against sex violence,” said Elizabeth Madariaga, a staff counselor at the Counseling and Testing Center at WKU.

Around 500 people started at Warren County Justice Center and walked one mile around downtown Bowling Green, ending back at the Justice Center for a ceremony.

The ceremony included hearing poems and music from locals and a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of those who have been assaulted.

Guest speaker Janie Wells also talked to the crowd. Wells’ daughter was sexually assaulted and murdered 10 years ago. She came out to give advice to people who had experienced or know someone who has experienced sexual assault.

“If I can say one thing, it’s this — pursue your dreams,” she said. “If there’s something you want to do while you’re alive, do it. Honor your worth.”

Bowling Green senior Lauren Edison said she knew someone who had experienced sexual assault, which is why she attended Take Back the Night.

“I decided to take a stand that I wouldn’t be a victim to sexual abuse and show sympathy for those who have experienced it,” she said.

Wells said she was excited to see so many young people at the event.

“I’m proud of everyone who came out to raise awareness,” she said. “I’m excited to see so many young faces. It lets everyone know we are going to end this cycle. We are going to stop this.”

The event was just one of many to raise awareness for sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Awareness Committee partnered with WKU’s Counseling and Testing Center and Hope Harbor to put on events throughout the month.

Other events they have included “The Vagina Monologues” and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, which was also hosted by WKU’s Interfraternity Council.

“Not only do we raise awareness for what is going on, but we also let victim survivors know they’re supported,” Madariaga said.