Hope Harbor Inc. hosts annual ‘Take Back the Night’ event

Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

Hope Harbor Inc., a nonprofit sexual trauma recovery center in Bowling Green, hosted its annual “Take Back the Night” empowerment and awareness against sexual violence event on Thursday, April 28 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the SoKY Marketplace. 

It was also sponsored by Atmos Energy, WBKO, WKU Gender and Women’s Studies and Med Center Health.

The event featured a variety of local vendors, childrens’ activities, live entertainers and food trucks. This gave many local groups the opportunity to participate in an event that would give back to the community.

“We really just want to show the community that we’re here for them. [We want to] let them know what we’re here to serve anyone who has been impacted by sexual violence,” Mel Gerard, Hope Harbor’s community engagement coordinator, said.

Hope Harbor is working on several initiatives and programs to help better achieve prevention and intervention in sexually violent situations.

“We research and create prevention programs for middle school and high school, and then prevention programs for our community members,” Maja Antonic, Hope Harbor’s prevention specialist, said to the crowd. “One of these programs is to equip attendees with tangible skills on how to intervene as bystanders if they ever witness potentially high-risk situations. Prevention is what we are trying to achieve and to set cultural norms that violence is never okay.”

Community events like “Take Back the Night” allow local businesses to show their support for initiatives they are passionate about, so many vendors came out to support sexual assault awareness month.

“I used to volunteer with Hope Harbor and now I’m back as a vendor instead,” Aimee Hawks, a vendor for Moon Merie, her copper jewelry business, said. “I think it’s super important we have these resources to help guide you, especially when a lot of people don’t know what to do in these types of situations.”

Hope Harbor offers volunteer opportunities for WKU students, some of which participated in the event.

“It’s a great operation and a great way to serve your community. I’ve learned a lot volunteering with Hope Harbor and I know there are still so many ways to get involved,” Isabella Hunter, a senior criminology and sociology major, said.

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected]