Safe Harbor Family Crisis Center’s 21st “Take Back the Night Rally” drew residents of the Galesburg and Knox students to Lake Storey Pavillion on Tuesday night. The theme of the event was “Taking Back the Power to Write Our Own Happily Ever After.”
After several presentations and speeches by Safe Harbor staff, audience members were invited to share their stories of dealing with domestic abuse and relationship violence.
“I think it gives people who have experienced abuse a place where they are not alone and they can share their stories,” senior Becky Gonshak said.
Junior Jess Hale shared her poem, “The body is a timeline,” which she had written prior to the rally.
“It’s pretty powerful, and I wish days like this could continue on, and not just be one-night things,” Hale said of the event.
The event was emceed by former mayor Bob Sheehan, who has “always” been a supporter of Safe Harbor, he said.
“The message is getting, and the organization has succeeded in getting, the public to talk about this, and agencies are beginning to see this as the problem that it is,” he said.
The back wall of the event hall was lined with paper cutouts of books and pens to respectively represent the adult and child clients Safe Harbor has assisted. There were a total of 369 adults and 211 children represented in the display.
Safe Harbor intern and Monmouth College senior Sophi Morhardt said that events like Take Back the Night bring attention to the magnitude of the issue of domestic abuse.
“After working [at Safe Harbor], you realize how common it is. Events like this just bring awareness to so many people,” she said.
Fellow Monmouth senior and Safe Harbor intern Nikki Klein said that through the rally, abuse survivors can recognize that there are others like them in their community.
“I think it helps them realize that there are other people out there just like them and they’re not alone,” she said. “I think it’s a great thing for the community.”
The event concluded with a candlelight vigil outside. People held candles to honor those who have survived abuse and who continue to experience it.
Several survivors said in their speeches that they often blamed themselves for the abuse they experienced instead of the perpetrator. Safe Harbor staff recognized that this is a common reaction, but said that abuse is never the victim’s fault.
“It’s all about power and control — the victims blame themselves so many times,” Morhardt said. “Events like this only make them stronger.”
This issue reaches beyond just what was exhibited or displayed at the rally, Hale said.
“People should feel like a survivor every day. Just don’t give up,” she said.