A candlelight vigil and march was held as part of the Take Back the Night event last September. The event raised awareness about sexual assault and violence offering support and solidarity to survivors. /FILE PHOTO

Community asked to come together to Take Back the Night

By Sue Tiffin

Volunteers including musicians spoken word artists and speakers are being invited to join survivors and allies in speaking out against sexual relationship and domestic violence in an annual event that includes a rally and march through the streets of downtown Haliburton.

The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre Fleming College and partner organizations are hosting a Take Back the Night event on Sept. 19 to “rise up speak out and take a stand against sexual violence” at rallies vigils and marches held in Peterborough Northumberland City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton.

“In the wake of local issues of sexual assault online luring and sexual harassment changes to campus policies on sexual violence and harassment #MeToo and recent high profile sexual assault trials participants are welcome to join together to build a more healing and inclusive community” reads a press release regarding the event which has taken place in Haliburton for the past several years with about 50 people coming to last year’s event.

Lisa Clarke executive director of the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre said volunteers who can join the rally are welcome to help make the event a positive and memorable one to help support survivors noting that “The more people that stand together with you the less you are alone.”

“It’s a positive event and it’s a solidarity event” she said. “A wonderful event to bring family and friends people who you love stand in candlelight and walk together to share this experience of speaking out against the violence and committing to a more loving and healthier community.”

Clarke said the first step for survivors in accessing confidential services for support after incidents of abuse is happening sooner than in the past.

“Over the past two years in the wake of the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp movement people are really having a conversation more survivors are disclosing what they’ve experienced sooner after their experience” she said. “In the past we know that survivors of childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence may not have spoken of their experiences for decades. They would have lived with that silence. That’s especially true in rural regions where in communities everyone knows everyone. With the #MeToo movement daughters have talked to mothers and survivors are coming to disclose their experiences sooner after it happens.”

Clarke said Take Back the Night is an important global event to speak out about the impact of gender-based violence and sexual violence encouraging hope for everyone in the community to foster healthier relationships to end that violence.

“According to Statistics Canada half of women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16” reads an excerpt from the history of the Take Back the Night event sent to the Echo by Clarke. “In addition one in six males and one in two trans people will be sexually assaulted sometime in their lives. Female identified people between the ages of 15 to 24 are the most likely victims of sexual assault and about 50 per cent of assaults occur on dates. We are therefore so grateful to Fleming College and Trent University for partnering with us on this important issue. Not everyone has been sexually assaulted not everyone sexually assaults but every female trans and non binary person has been taught to fear it. We are told from the time we are young not to walk alone not to go out after dark to avoid strangers and to avoid dangerous areas of town. Yet 80 per cent of sexual assaults occur in a residence and over 80 per cent of assailants are known to the victim.”

The Haliburton Take Back the Night event will be held on Thursday Sept. 19 with sign-making starting at 6 p.m. a rally at 7 p.m. and a candlelight vigil and walk beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Head Lake Park.

On the same evening events also take place in Peterborough at Millennium Park Lindsay at Victoria Park and Cobourg at the Gathering Place. For more information about the event to volunteer at the rally or regarding confidential services visit the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre website or call the Centre at 705-748-5901.