For the first time in eight years, the UA and the Tucson community came together to host a joint “Take Back The Night” event.
Take Back The Night is an annual event that promotes an end to sexual violence, gendered violence, domestic violence and violence against children.
Take Back the Night began with two solidarity marches, one beginning at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center and one at Time Market, near Fourth Avenue. The marches converged in Geronimo Plaza on University Boulevard, “visually coming together” to illustrate the UA and Tucson communities uniting against sexual violence, said Erin Strange, violence prevention specialist for the Oasis Program.
The keynote speaker was Frank Galarte, an adjunct lecturer in the UA Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Galarte, who identified himself as a transgender of color, is a survivor of sexual assault, but he came to speak about what it means to survive, not his personal story.
“Through our behaviors, our relationships, our intimacies, and our attractions, we have the power to be able to work together toward the world where racial violence and gender violence is no longer expected or no longer anticipated,” Galarte said.
Galarte wanted to bring attention to gender violence, a topic not often talked about at Take Back The Night. He also spoke about the many women who experience sexual abuse after crossing the border from Mexico.
A major component of the event was the “Survivor’s Speak-Out,” where survivors were allowed to come on stage and share their stories. One speaker described being raped at 5 years old, and another discussed being raped just two months ago.
One common theme that all of the survivors’ stories shared was that they would not let their abuser control their life. They no longer identified as victims, but as survivors.
“One benefit is that it woke me up and now I am able to fight for people who aren’t strong enough and don’t understand that it’s not their fault,” said one survivor.
The UA Hypnotic Dancers performed between speakers.
The event ended with a performance by the Esperanza Dance Project and a candlelight vigil to honor all of the survivors’ stories.
The first Take Back The Night took place in the U.S. in the 1970s. People in cities worldwide continue to host annual marches, rallies and performances.
Noah Jackter, a student at Tucson High Magnet School, attended Take Back The Night to support his girlfriend, a survivor, and because it was something he felt was important to the Tucson community. Jackter said one thing he learned from the event was that placing blame is a big problem for survivors of sexual assault.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article erroneously stated that the UA Vagina Warriors performed at the event and misstated a time regarding a speaker. The Daily Wildcat regrets the errors.