Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Take Back the Night

Every 98 seconds, someone from the U.S. becomes a victim of sexual assault or rape. Although the number of survivors grows by the day, rape and sexual violence continue to be the most under-reported crimes in America. Despite the fact that there are roughly 321,500 new victims of sexual assault or rape in America every year, sexual violence remains largely unspoken about in the world today. Dickinson College, although a comparatively safe space, one where you could leave your laptop in the library for 12 hours and return to it untouched, is not exempt from sexual assault. Dickinson, like any other college campus, has students who have survived these experiences and who continue to manage the long-lasting effects of sexual violence. While most college campuses, including our own, have resources and support, the stigma around sexual violence pressures survivors not to share their experiences overcoming the long-lasting impact of sexual violence.

Take Back the Night, however, is an opportunity for those in the Dickinson community to tell their stories as a means of reclaiming their body and experience. Beginning in 1972, when women at the University of Southern Florida marched to demand safety and resources for women, Take Back the Night has been a student-centered act of social justice. For both student speakers and those who attend to listen and support, this event is a moment to reflect on survivorship and show solidarity to those recovering from sexual violence. Likewise, this experience is powerful for those present to listen, who have also experienced sexual violence and can find comfort in their allies. The significance of Take Back the Night goes beyond exposing sexual violence; instead, it is the empowerment of survivors with the support of allies on campus. Take Back the Night provides a moment for our campus community to stand with those impacted by sexual violence and to commit to building a culture where violence no longer exists.

On Wednesday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m., Allison Great Hall transforms into space where survivors and allies can stand in solidarity. Student speakers, along with our keynote speaker, Maria Amato Acker, a 1993 Dickinson alum, will share their experiences with sexual violence and the impact it has had on their lives. Following, there will be a candlelight vigil in Allison Community Room where attendees can offer words of support for survivors. Advocates from the YWCA and DVS will be present to provide support. After the vigil, members of Don’t Conceal to Heal will provide comfort space at Landis.

Written by Lizzy Parry ’21, WGRC student worker

Note: Confidential support for students is available at the Wellness Center (717-245-1663), or the 24/7 Dickinson Advocacy Hotline (717-831-8850; an advocate from the YWCA can meet you on campus). Confidential support for employees is available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) (717-243-1896) or the 24/7 Dickinson Advocacy Hotline (717-831-8850).