Haliburtonians asked to Take Back the Night

By Jenn Watt

Published on Sept. 20 2016

This Thursday the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre is asking residents to come out to their annual Take Back the Night event in support of those who have survived sexual domestic or relationship violence.

This is the 30th year of the walk for the organization which has simultaneous walks in Cobourg Peterborough Lindsay and Haliburton.

“We hope to have out as many people as possible. People are welcome to contact us if they want to read a poem or speak. We want the gathering to grow and grow as we create a healing community” says Lisa Clarke community engagement and project manager for the centre.

Supporters allies and survivors are all asked to come to the Haliburton high school athletic field at 7 p.m. on Thursday Sept. 22 for speeches a candlelight vigil and a short walk.

Take Back the Night is a larger movement founded in the ’70s as a reaction to the murder of a female scientist as she walked home alone in Philadelphia. As the name indicates the walk is partially about redirecting responsibility for violence from the victim to the perpetrator. Rather than placing blame on those who commit violence women are often told they need to change their behaviour to avoid becoming a victim. Avoiding walking at night certain places or particular attire are examples.

“This type of violence – sexual violence – is the most silenced of all violence. We don’t ask people how much they were drinking when they were murdered. We don’t ask people what they were wearing how short their skirt was if they were robbed. And yet it continues to be huge amount of silence and shame and stigma around sexual violence” she says.

And in many cases it’s not the stranger in the shadows who commits sexual violence.

“Eighty per cent of sexual violence occurs in a residence. It’s not happening out on the streets” she says.

It can be hard in small towns for victims of violence to come forward or even feel comfortable in the community – something KSAC knows all about.

“That is a very difficult conversation to have in rural areas of Ontario where everybody knows everybody and violence is silenced. We come up to stand with survivors and for one evening we recognize the silence and we want to help work together as allies with survivors in opening up these conversations and healing families and fractured communities” Clarke says.

KSAC offers a range of programs for survivors of violence including a 24/7 crisis line (1-866-298-7778) a one-on-one confidential online chat on Friday Saturday and Sunday nights (KawarthaSexualAssaultCentre.com) counselling services for the victim and family and public outreach including to schools.

For more information about the walk visit the KSAC website or go to their Facebook group. Take Back the Night Haliburton is Thursday Sept. 22 starting at 7 p.m. at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School athletic field. The event is free and open to everyone.