April 15, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

VSU Hosts Take Back the Night Thursday

VALDOSTA - As part of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Valdosta State University will host “Take Back the Night” at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 17, on the front lawn in front of West Hall.

For the third consecutive year, the Sexual Assault Committee at VSU has organized the candlelight vigil, which honors those victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape. More than 300 whistles, bracelets and informational packets have already been distributed during April as part of the cause. Committee members will be passing out bottled water, t-shirts and informational pieces, throughout the day Thursday in order to raise awareness and promote prevention, leading up to the event, which is open to the community and themed “When I said no, you stopped.”

“Take Back the Night” began in the mid 1970s when women attending the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women lit candles and walked the streets of Belgium protesting violence against women, according to the official Web site. It began in the United States two years later, offering the “survivor speakouts” that have become a distinctive component of the event, which unifies communities on the subject of violence.

“Sexual Assault can happen to anyone, no matter race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, time of day or location,” Leah McMillan, LMFT for the VSU Counseling Center, said. “We must learn to protect ourselves and also learn what to do if we or someone we know is victimized.”

As chair of the Sexual Assault Committee, McMillan is committed to sexual assault education and prevention. With support from various departments and agencies, she and her committee have conducted several events, including a production of The Vagina Monologues, “Lets Talk About It” information booths, and Jeans for Justice, as part of the special awareness month. McMillan said she hopes the event can educate the campus as to the potential for sexual assault to occur when it is least expected.

“Together we can make a difference, one life at a time,” she said.

For more information, please call McMillan at (229) 333-5940 or e-mail her at lcmcmill@valdosta.edu . Visit www.takebackthenight.org for more information about the national organization.

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