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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Taking Back the Night

Photo courtesy of the DuPage County National Organization for Women
Photo courtesy of the DuPage County National Organization for Women

Since 1976, men and women have spoken out against violence in Take Back the Night, an event that reaches victims of abuse all over the world. It initially started in London, where women protested their negative experiences in the night time streets. Survivors have the chance of giving voice to their experiences and how they made the transition from victim to survivor.

Take Back the Night rallies usually are composed of marches, survivor testimonials and candlelight vigils. This event has inspired both men and women to confront social issues such as rape, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and violence against women and children.

UMass Boston has had the chance to offer this event for the third year on April 19. Debra Cohen, a social worker at UMass Boston’s counseling center and coordinator of the Clinical Psychology Center, works with second-year doctorial students to promote this event open to all students and all of the Boston community. Urmi Chakrabarti, Cara Suchs, Kristy Klein and Kathleen Sullivan are the four doctorial students who have worked closely with Cohen since this past September. “I want to underscore the importance of the impact sexual and relationship violence has on all members of our community,” Cohen said.

This team has worked hard to bring in various speakers to raise sexual assault and abuse awareness. There will be a number of local organizations all day on the third floor of the Campus Center in Ballroom A, where representatives will answer questions and hand out information.

Members of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program from Northeastern University will be coming in to speak and educate, mostly men, in how they can become allies to women. The spokesmen will focus on what men can do to help and prevent abuse against women. Representatives from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) will be offering tips on how to help people who have been assaulted.

Cohen will also be speaking about the different resources available on campus for victims of abuse, such as health services, the women’s center and the counseling center.

“The counseling center is committed in providing information and services for survivors and all those affected,” Cohen said. One UMass Boston undergraduate will also be addressing this issue, focusing on male abuse survivors and public safety will be conducting a self-defense workshop in order to educate men and women in protecting themselves.

The awarded documentary “NO!” by Aishah Shahidah Simmons will be shown at 1 p.m. during the event, with a discussion about the film afterward. “NO!” is about African American women’s experiences and struggles with assault.

“The power of ‘NO!’ lies not just in regaining lost voices, but in re-visioning and repositioning Black women’s history and current reality,” Walidah Imarisha, from Left Turn Magazine said. “One of the strengths of the film is that it does not show the women broken. They come across as whole human beings with agency and insight.”

Cohen wants to have an international focus to reach as many members of the community as possible. Yvette Modestin from El Encuentro Diastora Afro organization. There she will be speaking about her organization as well others in the Boston area and international organization that have helped and continue helping survivors of assault, nationally and internationally. One of her main topics will be sex trafficking, how to decrease abuse incidents and how to take action towards this social issue. Modestin is originally from Panama and works with many Hispanic and African America women.

There will be a display of the Clothesline Project offered by BARCC. It is a project that enables survivors to tell their story and their experience on t-shirts that are then hung on clothesline. There will also be a story wall with stories from UMass Boston’s very own students, faculty and staff who wish to share their experience.

After a meeting at the Quinn Plaza at 5:30 p.m. for a speak-out and a skit from the “Vagina Monologues,” students will march to the Harbor Point clubhouse where refreshments will be served.