By Jenn Watt
Published Sept. 27 2016
Half of women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lives. Women between the ages of 15 and 24 are the most likely to be targeted for sexual violence. Eighty per cent of those sexually assaulted know the assailant.
In the face of those grim statistics a group of men women and children came together for this year’s Take Back the Night march on Sept. 22 to oppose violence and create a space of safety and support for survivors.
“In 1981 the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres declared that Take Back the Night marches would be held on the third week in September so that across Canada women would be marching together” said Lisa Clarke community engagement and project manager of the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre.
“Today we march in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence of all genders and their allies across Canada and our four counties to call for an end to sexual violence.”
The group gathered this year was about double the attendance of last year’s march – a trend Clarke said she’d like to see continue. Following speeches and candle lighting the group walked from the Haliburton high school field to Head Lake Park led by two bagpipers.
The sexual assault centre co-ordinates four simultaneous walks in the counties it covers. Clarke pointed out that while women are told to avoid walking alone at night the threat to their safety is statistically in their homes and with people they know.
“Not every woman has been sexually assaulted but many women have been taught to fear it. We’re told from the time we’re young not to walk alone not to go out after dark to watch on the subways to avoid strangers and to avoid dangerous areas of town and yet 80 per cent of sexual assaults occur in the home and 80 per cent of the assailants are known to the victim. In Peterborough County we did the research: 96 per cent of the assailants are known to the victim” she said.
Karen Basciano who has run the event for years spoke Thursday night and told her story of being sexually assaulted. She said she’s had many supportive friends but a few have asked her why she let it happen to her – placing the blame on the victim which is a longstanding issue when it comes to sexual violence.
Still Basciano said telling her story has been worthwhile.
“Once you start talking you’ll realize how many people there are around you who want to love and support you through this journey. It’s all about breaking the cycle of violence” she said.